Review by Mark Schwab
As Hollywood continues its march toward making nothing but vacuous comic book/superhero movies, along comes Joshua Caldwell's Layover - a true David-smiting the Hollywood Goliath micro budget indie that slakes the thirst of the conscious movie-goer. Made on a budget of $6,000 (yes, that's 3 zeros) Layover takes a seemingly simple story and elevates it to a level of artistic maturity. And it isn't just because 90% of the movie is spoken in French (more on that later though).
The set up has Simone (a lovely Nathalie Fay) flying into LAX from Paris where her connecting flight to Singapore is delayed until the next morning. Waiting for her there is a boyfriend whom Simone is convinced is ready to propose marriage. Since the layover is over 12 hours, the airline puts Simone up in a downtown hotel which is nice but it quickly becomes clear that Simone has a lot on her mind and sitting around a hotel room all night is not going to cut it. After an obviously tense phone conversation with her boyfriend, she decides to call an old friend from Paris, Juliette (Bella Dayne), pushing Simone into the vastness of the Los Angeles skyline.
Director Caldwell makes a number of good decisions with Layover, the first being to have the movie in French. It actually works for his story that our main character is very poor with English and stuck in that most American city of angels. Without giving too much away, it actually speaks to some key plot points and hints at past regrets within her character. The next good decision was to layer in a lot of subtext and emotions which bubble just under the surface of all the characters. That type of palpable filmic tension is difficult to pull off without the movie getting mired in stiffness. Not here. The cast is strong and intelligent - perfectly cast and extremely well directed.
If you are a fan of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise films (as I am), this is absolutely right up your alley and is the equal of that wonderful series without stealing from it. This movie has its own voice. It's about adults who know they have arrived at a key turning point in their lives, talking to each other instead of just at each other about adult themes and executed beautifully by a Writer/Director who knows exactly what he is doing. I should also mention the film looks gorgeous - DP William Wolffe composes a number of location shots which show off L.A. in all its glittering glory.
One of Caldwell's characters in Layover is a frustrated screenwriter who says that his passion is "writing movies that no one wants to see". Well, if the movies are written, cast, shot and directed like Layover, plenty will want to see and experience them.
Layover can be purchased at www.layoverfilm.com