Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Atlanta Film Festival review: EUPHONIA

Euphonia, by Georgia's Danny Madden, is a movie that operates beautifully before its plot overtakes its more lyrical features.  Madden's gorgeously shot homemade piece, largely driven by its detailed soundtrack, follows a big-box-store employee (Will Madden, leading a small cast of talented amateurs) who discovers that his purchase of a digital recorder--a devise that fascinates him obsessively--has resulted in its literal possession of his auditory abilities.  As a result, this little handheld thingymajig ends up putting everyone in his life at a distance (including a new girlfriend, played with verve by Maria Decotis).

Obviously, sound takes a big role in the success of this movie, and director Madden makes fine use of this often-neglected feature in films (it leaves the viewer hyper-aware of all the sounds surrounding them).  The film would have been improved if Madden had not inserted those plot points that deliver it into Twilight Zone territory.  It works just fine as a movie that pays more attention to the marriage of sound and image rather than to its predictable, forced construct.  (Why couldn't this simply have been a piece about someone who takes joy in all the sounds the world has to offer?  Why did the sound recorder have to be a "haunted" one?)  Still, this boondoggle takes up very little time or concern in the story, so it registers only as a bitter aftertaste.  In the end, Euphonia is commendable for its realistic acting, its mesmerizing pace (it's just a bit more than an hour long), and its inventiveness on a budget of near zero.   It's a very "indie" indie, and that aspect lends the movie some vigorous charm.  . 

1 comment:

Abe L. said...

As this film played on, I became keenly aware of a metaphor in play, which I believe to be related to drug use, especially pot. In my earlier years we used it to enhance our natural environment, and when without it, we suffered the same effects our protagonist endured when his recorder was not available. When viewed that way it seems less like a haphazard foray into the Twilight Zone and more like a commentary on what such things do to a person's perceptions.