The world is not always fine and dandy. Some people out there have it harder then others as they struggle just to make a living. This matter is not always shown on screen; but when it is, filmmakers do their best to make this issue clear. Such is the case for the independent film Below Dreams. Directed by Garret Bradley, Below Dreams shows us the city of New Orleans from three different perspective and how each vantage point reflects the hardship of living. Below Dreams gained attention in the film festival circuits; particularly at the Tribeca Film Festival. Being highly regarded in the movie-going community, one could expect great things from this pseudo documentary; but does Below Dreams make a statement?
The films follows three people: the single mother Leanne, an unemployed father named Jamaine and the newcomer Elliot. Each character has their own story in this plot, but the point of the three stories is to capture the hardship of living in a big city. That was my consensus of Below Dream's plot; however I found this story's execution to be lacking. If the movie dealt with the inhabitants of New Orleans, I probably would be fine with the story's presentation. However the premise of this plot was to follow three different characters; which gave the movie a structured narrative. The plot consistently jumps between the three's stories, which was not necessarily a problem. However the scenes had little to no connection to the overall story which made jarring to sit through the movie. I realize that the point was to capture a day in the life of three struggling people, but this idea clashed with the film's sense of storytelling. If the movie was longer then it may have been more effective, but unfortunately an hour and fourteen minutes is not enough time to tell three different stories. I think the story remained true to the filmmakers' objectives, but I feel that this plot was not executed to the best of its abilities.
With the movie following three characters, it made sense that this trio would be the focal point in the matter of performances. While their stories were questionable, I did feel that the three characters were effective. None of the characters were played like the types that you see in most movies. In fact the three's performances came off as people who are not use to acting. That may seem like a poor sense of direction but in fact it was a move that made the characters believable. These three came off as normal people who were having just a day in their lives documented. This is not say the characters were perfect. I am still trying to figure what the point was in Elliot's motivations. Be that as it may, while there were no show stealing performances, the characters of Below Dreams were effective thanks to their genuine approach.
The idea behind Below Dreams was to have a tone that would you would see in a documentary; and I can say that the movie certainly had cinematography reflecting reflecting one. The look and camerawork for the film definitely created the sense of a documentary which certainly capture the real life aspect behind the film. I feel that the documentary motif clashed with the overall plot. No doubt that this direction was creative, but I feel that this concept would have been more effective if the story was executed properly.
Below Dreams presented a very compelling idea that was full of intrigue as well as gravity. However, because of its lackluster storytelling, this independent film suffered in its overall execution. A movie can deal with the most real of subjects. However if the story structure is not solid, then it can loose an audience' s interest; and I believe this movie did just that. Though the concept was bold, Below Dreams lacked in the proper sense of making a movie experience memorable; as well as worthwhile.
Be sure to catch Below Dreams on VOD on April 21st (Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play, and VUDU) .