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Spring Forward
2000 - R - 100 Mins.
Director: Tom Gilroy
Producer: Gil Holland, Jim McKay, Paul Mezey
Written By: Tom Gilroy
Starring: Ned Beatty, Liev Schreiber, Bill Raymond, Catherine Kellner, Hallee Hirsh
Review by: David Trier
I might be biased because the company I work for did the trailer for this film. I'm not sure if that biases me for it or against it to be honest, but at any rate, this is a film that reminds us that there is still profound beauty and entertainment in simplicity.

The story captures a year in the life of two Parks and Recreations workers somewhere in New England who become unlikely friends. Murphy (Ned Beatty) has been around for a while and likes the simple approach to life. He is saddened by his gay son's illness, but still finds pleasure in helping people catch a break. Paul (Liev Schreiber) just got out of prison for armed robbery. He's got a bit of a temper but he aims to be a better person and get himself more centered. Through their encounters with various strangers, they learn about each other and about themselves.

Yeah, that's about it. There is no actual plot. The movie pretty much consists of loosely threaded dialogues. Just two guys doing stuff and talking all the while. By all rights this should be the most boring movie ever made. But miraculously, it pretty efficiently pulls you in and makes you care about these two average guys. The film has a deeply engrained sense of purity. Void of special effects and, waddya-call-it, (conflict?), the film is stripped down to the core of two guys talking it out. I can't explain why this is interesting, but it is. I went to the LA premier screening and towards the end I was looking around at the audience (I had already seen the film a few times) and some people had curled up and were dozing off. But it was the kind of dozing off you do at a sleepover when you're a kid and two good friends of yours are still up having a conversation.

The acting is excellent all throughout the unusually small cast. This is Beatty's best performance ever in my opinion. Yes, even better than THAT one in Deliverance. Liev Schreiber is just a really talented actor. He brings an authenticity to his roles that's much appreciated. I recommend RKO281 and The Daytrippers for two other great performances of his. Campbell Scott, the guy credited with making big ears and teeth handsome, has a short but entertaining role as does Peri Gilpin (Roz on Frasier). Not every scene works, but it's impressive how many of them do considering you have no idea if the film is going anywhere. There's one point near the end where there's an attempt to create some danger-tension when they come across a suicidal woman on the side of the road, and although it's a pretty well-acted scene, it just doesn't do anything for the film. But generally each moment is satisfying.

I originally thought it was titled Spring Forward because quite often the film "springs forward" several months without warning you. But apparently it's because the story starts in the season of spring and, uh, goes forward. The music is really nice and director Tom Gilroy uses this to set the scene, not the emotional stakes (as is exploited in big-budget Hollywood). The dialogue is exceptional and the fact that its being delivered by talented naturalistic actors makes the film worthwhile. The fact that nothing really happens? Spring Forward calls into question how important that really is.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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