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Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Review of "3 Backyards" screening at the IFC Theater

I have to admit that "3 Backyards" is an odd little film. If you're not into indie art house films,  you might not have the patience or the attention span to sit through Eric Mendelsohn's follow-up to "Judy Berlin." Both films won directing awards at Sundance, btw. Mendelsohn, who also wrote, produced and edited "3 Backyards," has created a multi-layered story with three separate arcs loosely linked together. Elias Koteas and Kathryn Erbe are featured in the first arc as a married couple who are struggling with personal and financial problems while raising their young daughter. Kate's character is simply referred to as "John's wife" in the credits and is first seen asleep at the dining room table at 3:30 AM while John sits across the table, unable to connect with her before he leaves for a business trip. Later, their phone conversation reveals an unspoken conflict and John's fear of hashing it out with his wife, who seems desperate to resolve it once and for all. In her few scenes on and off-screen via voice-over, Kate conveys the emotional pain and loneliness of a wife who needs her husband yet can't get him to open up to her. John avoids dealing with his marital turmoil by literally distancing himself from his wife until he witnesses  an unexpected tragedy while staying at the airport hotel when his flight is cancelled. There's little dialogue in the film while much is revealed via close ups of the Long Island locations where "3 Backyards" was shot, including Port Jefferson, Huntington, Northport and Southhampton. Shots of sunlight streaming through the tree leaves, the ocean, not to mention some of the lovely homes featured out on the island are all lovingly displayed. Sunlight, the roar of airplanes, and LIE traffic cut through the silence between the characters in all three stories, the second involving a young girl who loses her mom's bracelet on her way to school and the third involving a local artist who is asked to drive a famous actress living next door to the ferry.

What "3 Backyards" finally tells us is that actions speak louder than words, in more ways than one.

1 comment:

  1. I recognized Danai Gurira from a previous LO:CI episode, "Inert Dwarf". Naturally, Lynn Kressel and Kevin Kuffa were responsible for casting the film "3 Backyards" as well as LO:CI. I also recognized another actress who was featured in a LO:CI episode "Smile" as the grieving schizophrenic mom who kills the dentist.