Secrets and Lies, Forgiveness and Redemption: A Week in Wint
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John G. Young ('Parallel Sons') is a fine writer and director whose fertile mind is slowly offering beautiful little quiet films that bravely address many difficult issues. THE RECEPTION is a very low budget film (not evident in the product, but in actuality it is said to have been made for $5000. - meaning it is a labor of love on the part of the cast and crew), an Indie film garnering respect in the festivals and will likely gather a following now that it is available on DVD. Young does not write or direct exploitational African American films: Young writes about less flamboyant issues that make his work less ethnic and more universal.
Jeannette (Pamela Holden Stewart) is an aging divorced French 'writer' who has moved to upstate New York to a beautiful home to drink, lives with an HIV-positive African American painter Martin (Wayne Lamont Sims), a disillusioned gay man who has retreated from the artistic and emotional pains of Paris. The two care for each other, two isolated souls in mutual need of understanding. Into this snowy solace comes Jeannette's daughter Sierra (Margaret Burkwit), whom Jeannette has not seen in years having left her with her father at the time of an early divorce suffering the anger of the estrangement and distance, and Sarah's new husband Andrew (Darien Sills-Evans) a handsome African American law student from a wealthy family. Jeannette demands they stay until the weekend when Jeannette will throw a big reception party for the newly wedded couple. At a dinner party for a 'potential lover' for Jeannette all of the underpinnings of the drama become evident. Nothing is as it seems: every character has secrets and lies that gradually and painfully surface and change the story in surprising ways. Original intentions are thwarted by dishonesty and resolutions of broken lives bring the film to a quiet end.
Young addresses issues such as gay love, living with HIV, alcoholism, dysfunctional mother/daughter relationships, deception, greed, lust, desperation - all in a tight little story that makes its messages clear though not only well written dialogue but also the extended silences in the isolation of a place in the snowy woods. The cast acts with an unforced natural manner, allowing us to slowly discover the real complexities of the characters. The scenery is ideally captured by cinematographer Derek Wiesehahn. It is refreshing to see how touching a film can be made with so little money, eight days shooting time, and a devoted group of fine artists. Grady Harp, December 05
A good, understated film about relationships
Michael L. Wiersma | Springfield, MA United States | 12/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is so much going on in this relatively short and relatively simple film that it's a stretch to even sketch out a simple plot summary. Suffice it to say this is about two couples, both of an unusual sort, meeting and interacting, and the male "halves" of the couples fall in love. Add to this that the female "halves" are mother and daughter, and white, and the males are black. And nobody really tells the whole truth.
This is a vastly more compelling and interesting film than any summer blockbuster I have ever seen, made for any amount of money. Consider that this film was made on a reported shoestring, and it's impressiveness becomes even more apparent.
The settings and scenes, snowy woods and wooden living rooms and bedrooms make for a satisfyingly understated drama that adds to the effect and covers some occasional imperfections that are barely worth mentioning.
But mention, I shall. Some acting and interaction is less convincing than I would have liked, and some scenes could have surely benefitted from another take. The sound, too, is muddy, and words are occasionally indistinguishable from background noises. I also don't think, from a writing perspective, that it was necessary or that it added impact that one of the men was HIV+. I think we had enough going on here and had covered sufficient issues that it was "over the top" to add this in addition to everything else. I have seen and heard more convincing and better flowing dialog than this, but it wasn't really a problem.
All in all, I'd say this is a thoughtful and interesting and topical film that barely spends a minute before the surprises start hitting you, and they never stop. Add to that wonderful sets and settings, likeable characters (mostly) and lots of drama. This movie sets a pace that not many can match."