Plan as you may, every film that you see can’t be a winner. This holds especially true at film festivals where pre-festival exposure to the films playing is sometimes nil. That’s the exciting thing about going to a festival. You may stumble across an unheralded gem or you may find a film that turns you off completely, sort of a film roulette if you will. As I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, the other two narrative films that I caught at the Indy Film Fest (Fort Tilden and Bluebird) were both incredible in their own unique ways and worthy of infinite praise. Perhaps the old adage of third time’s the charm is true because the third narrative film I saw, William MacGillivray‘s Hard Drive, just wasn’t up to par with the others. Being the first narrative film that I was set to see, I had hoped it would set the bar incredibly high for the rest I had ahead. Instead, it did the opposite.
Hard Drive is based in a nondescript Canadian town (it was filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and gives us Ditch (Douglas Smith), a music-loving slacker who delivers papers for a living. He lives in a duplex with his mother (Megan Follows) and spends quality time with Mr. Knudtson, the old man who lives upstairs (Jerry Granelli), a jazz drummer who knew his estranged father. But things change when Knudtson dies and a mysterious and attractive neighbor appears (Laura Wiggins). Debs, as she’s called, is elusive but shows interest in Ditch so things get started. Just as they get close, she bugs out and Ditch can’t figure out why. Her phone is constantly ringing and she refuses to answer her phone, she keeps her computer close, refusing to let anyone look at it. Warning signs are everywhere, but Ditch can’t seem to let her go. After Knudtson passes away, she moves into the apartment above that Ditch shares with his mother and the affair catches fire, which of course sends his mother over the edge.
When Debs goes off the deep end and has Ditch burn off a tattoo of hers that is on her lower back, the real Debs comes out. Some bad shit has happened to her and she just wants to get away. Unbeknownst to her, Ditch has answered her phone and has plans of his own. That’s when Debs’ past and present collide with consequences Ditch never figured on.
The main problem with this film, and to me there are many, is that the first act is way too long and in no way sets up the last two. The ham-fisted way that the big reveal is handled is almost laughable despite the serious nature of the revelation. The actions that follow the big confrontation as well are silly and just unbelievable. I frankly think that this could have been a far more pertinent movie had the script done a better job of realistically tackling anything that might actually occur when people are in situations that these characters find themselves in. The characters are woefully underdeveloped, wooden and never really provide entry for us to ever sympathize with them. Debs’ situation is handled in such a slapdash manner that I really didn’t care about it. Ditch’s yearning to find his real father could have been a great story to capitalize more on, but it gets lost in the shuffle of Debs storyline and takes a backseat.
You can’t win ’em all, I reckon.
So, that’s it for my narrative film coverage. I will report on the last film I saw in the coming days, the documentary Last Days in Viet Nam which was absolutely fantastic.