A Year And Change is the debut feature length film of writer/director Stephen Suettinger. It stars Bryan Greenberg as a man named Owen, who finds himself in the emergency room alone on New Years Eve after falling off the roof at his friend's party. This moment is a turning point in his life as he decides that he needs to make a change for the better. Change is never easy however, as it takes time, work and dedication.
Owen is an unreliable slacker with extreme commitment issues. He seems to not really have any genuine feelings towards anything in his life. It's not until New Years Eve when he starts to wonder if he can really bear to face 12 more months of this same situation. But there is a lot more to Owen than just what's on the surface. When his friend Angie (Natasha Rothwell) comments about how he is in the E.R. alone, Owen begins to reevaluate the relationships he prioritizes in his life and attempts to stop drinking and get his life back on track. Sometimes when you're working on fixing yourself it starts to attract people who also are in a similar situation of lives in need of fixing.
Owen's ex-wife Cindy (Kat Foster) is disappointed that he isn't more involved in his son Adam's (Drew Shugart) life. His friend and neighbor Angie has to deal with not only working hard at her job as a nurse but with her alcoholic father and paraplegic brother Todd (Jamie Hector) who has become more than a little bitter about his situation. It's unfair to call taking care of her brother something to deal with though; he's a person, just not a very happy one. His cousins Victor (Marshall Allman) and Kenny (T.R. Knight) each have their issues with the law. Jamie Chung plays Owen's "girlfriend" Pam, and I use that term loosely. Last but not least we have Vera (Claire van der Boom), who is fresh from a divorce and trying to stop her life from spiraling and is attempting to figure things out.
(One side note I'd like to make is that getting a lawyer makes you look guilty about as much as carrying around a condom makes you look like a sex addict. Like Chris Rock said, "Look guilty at home rather than innocent in jail.")
This movie has a first-rate cast, mostly made up of known television actors. None of them are going to sell out a movie tomorrow on their name alone, but due to the lack of A-list star power, the fantastic ensemble create characters that all stand out in their roles. The most surprising for me personally was T.R. Knight, who I only really knew from his role as the baby-faced intern George on Grey's Anatomy. I can't help but mention the always excellent and beautiful Kat Foster, she could play a silent role and it'd be amazing.
Have you ever said something in passing that made you pause and really reflect on things? A piece of dialogue in the first 15 minutes really hit me pretty hard. Owen commented on how he wasn't going anywhere and although he clearly meant that he was readily available, the look on his face soon after really seemed to add a bit of a deeper meaning to it. It really stayed on my mind throughout the first half of the film. It was as if he had begrudgingly accepted his life wasn't going anywhere of importance and that was kind of tragic.
To be honest, the first time I watched A Year And Change I really couldn't tell there was even music in the movie. It wasn't until the second viewing that I understood why I didn't notice the music and it was because it was so well intertwined with the film that the music wasn't attempting to compete for attention, but rather bolster the emotions of the scene. I had become so entranced with the film's atmosphere that composer Jeff Toyne's music had almost become sounds as subtle and as natural as birds singing in the background (which I also apparently missed).
Also a note about the sound is that this movie utilizes voiceover narration. We've gotten to a point where we always expect voiceovers to say something prolific or profound and this one didn't seem to in the beginning. I felt that I might not have liked as much if it did say something super profound that didn't fit with the character as he was in that moment. It was very much just the inner thoughts of the character in that scene and it was pleasant.
A Year And Change has it's own truth and a story to tell. The characters are relatable and feel very honest. The pacing is incredibly well done as I didn't feel like a single scene dragged on too long. The timing was weird though, as it would jump months at a time. A little calendar in the background to tell what month we were in would have been appreciated, but is ultimately unnecessary as the story is still easy to follow. It's very immersive and the time just flew by for this 1 hour and 28 minute film. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who appreciates a good drama with great character interactions and subtle but absorbing romance.