Review by Mark Schwab
May 15th, 2017
Millennials. That word hadn't been in the public consciousness much until around 2002 when it was the moniker pegged to those folks born starting around 1984. This is a group of people born into technology. They use it and are swimming in it twenty fours hours a day. Sounds exciting right? The truly modern age? Could there be a dark side to any of it? Director Douglas Reese subconsciously raises the question in his new film THE LONESOME and lets it play out as it may in his own unique style.
Set in the (very) present day, the motivating incident here is a birthday party for Joi (Joi Itapson) at her apartment and the events surrounding that. Friends are invited, some birthday decorations are hung up...everything on paper needed to have a nice gathering of folks. It isn't long though before cracks being to emerge in the surface pleasantries as the "friends" begin to show their absolute self-centeredness and disconnect from Joi and each other.
What makes THE LONESOME so effective is that none of this is played out for high drama. It builds so naturally as it creates total emptiness and ennui that by the end of the film you realize you've witnessed an incredibly sad portrait of today's generation. Reese creates smaller incidents within the main birthday party that are beautifully realized and symbolic of total obsession with one's self. For a Douglas Reese film, this has a sizable ensemble cast (made up almost entirely of stars of his previous films) and every single one of them solidly embodies his theme without being a stereotype or trying to stand out above the others.
You'd think this film would be a slow slog but you'd be wrong. The 45-minute runtime is briskly-paced with a crisp edit (Reese used multiple cameras for this and it pays off handsomely), lovely 4K imagery and no traces of mumblecore flat-footedness. It's a cast that is obviously in-tune with themselves and with Reese's vision.
Ultimately, THE LONESOME is a quietly powerful indictment of the Net Generation who - according to Reese - seem to have Peggy Lee's haunting anthem "Is That All There Is?" playing on an endless loop inside their souls.