Review by Mark Schwab
August 26th, 2016
Indie filmmaking is cool. It's fun. It's an amazing challange and (contrary to what you might think) is still a uniquely creative way of expression. Young filmmaker Matt Senior has obviously caught the indie filmmaking bug based on his current film LIFE (aka The Boy Who Commits a Murder). It is that very passion that trips up his storytelling though over the 43 minute runtime.
Writer/Director/Everything else Matt Senior stars as "Boy" as well as narrates the story of a troubled youth who suddenly snaps and goes on a violent killing spree (which makes the title an odd choice as he seems to commit multiple murders). The problem here is that the storytelling takes a back seat as Senior piles on the "style" with quick cuts, slow motion, quick reverses, etc. It also felt as if every single transition in the Final Cut X editing program needed to be used even if it added nothing to the pace of the film.
I also noticed three names listed in the opening credits and five names in the end credits listed as Cinematographers and it really shows. Some of the shots in the film were excellent while others didn't rise above home-movie level. This inconsistancy was impossible to ignore for me. Making a movie is like creating a visual palette and when you throw everything but the kitchen sink in as visual elements, it's like trying to read a newspaper printed in 27 different-sized fonts. It turns off the viewer and makes them focus on technical things instead of getting caught up in your mood or story. Director Matt Senior appears to have been having such a good time making LIFE... that he decided to indulge his favorite scenes from Guy Ritchie, Darren Aranofsky, Danny Boyle and Quentin Tarantino.
Now this can actually be a good thing for young filmmakers. Being inspired by your favorite filmmakers to make the best movie you can is a great source to draw from and I'm certainly glad that Matt Senior is wise enough to recognize good filmmakers. But the key word here is inspired. Use that inspiration to promote your unique vision. You know you've done it right when the audience doesn't catch the clues to the great filmmaker who inspired you.
So is LIFE... just a mess? Actually no. For one thing, Senior's narration is terrific. It's consistently strong throughout the entire movie and had that Ewen McGregor vibe from TRAINSPOTTING. And, yes, there is 12-15 minutes of strong material here sprinkled throughout. WIth all of the cinematographers listed, I'm sure Matt Senior knows which one shot the good stuff. Cut away the chaff here and you could really have something promising.
I'm not worried about writer/director Matt Senior. He's gotten past the hard part of finding his footing and he has too much passion and drive not to keep making films. I will certainly be watching with interest when he comes out with an actual Matt Senior film.