Old friends from middle school years have morphed into becoming adult strangers to each other in Maria McIndoo's micro-budget feature debut Say It Like It Is (2013).
Dylan (played by director McIndoo) is a Philadelphia based wannabe writer who accepts her plight as a bartender to make ends meet, dumping on the urbanized phony artists she labels as the "attack of the clones". She takes a trip into Long Island to meet up with old gal pal Brooke (Rachel Williams). The latter has just moved in with Bill (Alex Karfarkis), the same boyfriend she had been talking about dumping, but now finds herself in the abode he has inherited from his Florida bound parents. Dylan finds it hard to believe Brooke is into the suburban life (including unlocked doors) and talking about starting a family; Brooke seems surprised that Dylan wants to stick to the "writing thing". As if these two weren't out of sync enough, the homeowners are looking after discombobulating nephew Laden (Michael McIndoo), a standoffish kid when he isn't being exceptionally needy. Dylan's next few days feature schedules determined by the "happy" couple's shopping habits or Laden's tantrums. A surprise party for the writer attended by her old friends helps to accentuate how different the two main characters have become.
Some films try to be BIG - all-encompassing, all-knowing, here to have the planet and its seven billion inhabitants entirely figured out. Other flicks try the micro route, examining details in the most petite of proportions. Say It Like It Is refreshingly tries to stay on the same scale as life itself and does a pretty good job of it. The situations are not over-dramatized or carry on as being "important". They're also not drawn out in navel-gazing introspection. The situation here is one you can recognize, the verisimilitude passes the sniff test, and the whole production seems to be in the hands of a filmmaker who knew exactly what she wanted to capture and what to not bother with.
There are some bumps in the presentation - the acting is somewhat stilted at times and the editing has an unimaginative cutting-on-dialogue consistency. But for a production that apparently stuck to less than four grand in financing, the end results bring good value to the 75 minute running time asked of it. After seeing so many cinematic (self) delusions trying to be this or that, it's nice to see a feature which unspools as naturally as this one does. And that's how best to describe Say It Like It Is - it's simply a "nice" film.
(And this feature is currently (11/09/2014) screening over at Cinema Zero.)
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