For the Plasma
directed by Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan
starring Rosalie Lowe, Anabelle Lemieux, and Tom Lloyd
Cochin Moon / APD / Cinema Conservatory
This movie holds much in common with a summer in Maine: it’s scenic, calming, and not all that much is going to happen. Helen (Rosalie Lowe) watches for forest fires with a completely improbable camera system. The job is boring and to fill the odd hours she enters a trance state and makes random marks on the financial pages of the Port Clyde lobster wrapper, and from this Zen activity she can predict the stock market. People pay her money for this, as you might hope. She hires an assistant Charlie (Anabelle LeMieux). Charlie sports a tomboy look and quickly picks up on her mysterious assignment to “check out” the cameras. Things drift along like a Maine summer: they squabble, they make up, and the real flash of energy and humor comes from Herbert (Tom Lloyd) the lighthouse keeper. He’s a classic Down Easter; his accent is good and he speaks in a plain, matter of fact way that glistens with humor. Two Japanese industrialists drop by and hire Helen, they want her to stare at space pictures and do…whatever. The pay is solid, she wants a new challenge, and Charlie seems to have taken up the stock market thing As Helen sails off with Herbert. The End.
I’m torn by this film, it’s scenic and soothing and frustrating: will anything happens? After an hour the art movie funk sets in: nothing is happening and I’m getting antsy, but with this much time invested I might as well stick it out. Maybe something will clear the mists, maybe a moose will wander into frame. But there’s none of that, just a mysterious window on the lives of two frustrating women. Men and women and Japanese industrialists drift in and drift out and there’s little sense of connection. We see a strong sense of independence all around, a lingering desire to be apart form a larger society, and that’s a theme I’ve often found in my travels in Maine. I can neither pan nor praises this odd little indie flick; there are moments of pure frustration and moments of impending awe. But whatever they are, this is a film with its own internal logic, and it owes nothing to Hollywood or Cannes.