Sunset in the desert. A modern mobile home splashed with paint, the bold hues almost glowing in the half-light. A man with a rifle. A shrill scream. Stuart Gatt’s Catching Dust announces itself by beginning with these enthralling moments. A film centering on a painter, it is interested in the motivations of its character, but also in placing them as figures within beautiful tableaus. The cinematography is gorgeous – there are shots in this film that could be framed and hung on your living room wall.
Erin Moriarty (The Boys) stars as Geena, an artistic outcast marooned in the Texas desert with a domineering lover, Clyde (Jai Courtney) Their run-down mobile home is the only shelter for miles. Suddenly one day, a shiny new mobile home is parked across the road. It signals the arrival of two strangers from New York, and this change throws Geena and Clyde’s stagnant lives into total turmoil.
Moriarty brings a believable and balanced complexity to Geena – like many couples, we believe she is capable of alternatively loving and hating her partner within the space of a few seconds. I also loved the way the film showcases Geena’s double desperation – a desire to escape her circumstances, and a desire to express herself artistically. Courtney has to navigate a tougher road as Clyde – he appears nearly mute at times, with most of his communication coming in over-the-top grunts and glares. But he also is prone to moments of deep sincerity.
Catching Dust is an art-film packaged as a noir thriller. It’s rare that a film starts with a gunshot, but spends a significant amount of time focused on the principles of abstract art. It is a beautiful, if not totally fulfilling, watch.