Forever Into Space
We’ve seen that it’s possible to break into Hollywood with low-key stories rather than sweeping spectacles. George Lucas did it with “American Graffiti,” following teenagers cruising around California on a balmy night in 1962; Richard Linklater arrested audiences’ attention with a fly-on-the-wall look at Texan youths in “Slacker;” and Kevin Smith made us never want to leave the convenience store setting of his debut film, “Clerks.”
“Forever Into Space” wants to emulate those movies, but it’s too self-aware. The characters feel like clones of people from other indie films rather than the unique individuals they so desperately want to be.
“American Graffiti” and “Clerks” have tighter structures than aspiring indie filmmakers think. They seem like they are simply watching youths like flies on a wall, but they are really revealing their inner angst amid all of the freewheeling fun. Beneath the breezy surface of those films lies a rich terrain of drama.
“Forever Into Space” barely scratches the surface of that drama. It’s more concerned with outward quirkiness. Here, this will give you a sense of how hard it tries to appear like an indie arthouse film: It takes place in New York, it’s shot in black-and-white, and one of the characters wears a Sonic Youth hat and constantly talks about his own band, which is called Fellini on Fellini — yes, as in the Italian neorealist filmmaker, Federico Fellini.
“Forever Into Space” revolves around on an over-educated, bratty blogger named Audrey (Kelly Sebastian) as she struggles to find work and hangs out with her artsy, annoyingly eccentric friends. That’s really all you need to know about the plot. Rather than poking fun at these stuffy New York intellectuals like Woody Allen does in “Manhattan,” director Greg W. Locke takes them quite seriously, bathing them in somber black-and-white and lingering on their angst-ridden eyes.
The film seems to be about the sense of entitlement that these educated, artsy people feel and how that feeling is dampened in the current economic climate. “This is stupid! I have two master’s degrees,” Audrey snarls before an interview for an entry-level job.
“Forever Into Space” is about that time in young people’s lives when they put themselves on a pedestal and then realize they have to work their way to it from the ground up. If only the filmmakers learned the same humility. The film ends with an obnoxiously self-congratulatory title card that reads: “This film was shot entirely in New York City by seven people for $880.09.” That would be impressive if the film were good. And the film would be better if it spent more time criticizing its pretentious, self-pitying characters rather than seemingly basking in their quirkiness and complaining. By the time the film points the finger at them, it’s too late. The audience will already feel alienated.
George Lucas, Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith followed their peers around like Locke does here, but they did so without losing sight of what makes compelling cinema. They watched like flies on a wall, but they also considered structure and character development at the same time rather than merely staring into space.
“Forever Into Space” is playing Saturday, July 18, 11 a.m. and Monday, July 20, 6:30 p.m. at the DeBoest Theater