This low budget psychological independent film employs a good score and some stellar cinematography to explore grief and loss.
Shot in and around Eau Claire WI, the story follows a father named Jay, played by Jason Anderson, as he deals with the unexplained disappearance of his daughter. His wife is overcome with grief, and he finds himself trapped in a forest that he can’t escape.
It actually took me a minute to get into this movie. It doesn’t give the viewer a moment to get acclimated to its world and characters. It dives right in and that feels a little disorienting at the start.
However, it didn’t take long before I was invested. There’s a really lovely little scene in which the Jay and his wife Louise , played by Suzette Murty, are making dinner together and the chemistry and rapport between them is infectious. It’s a wonderful scene that really anchors the film through all the twists and turns that follow.
After losing his daughter Jay finds himself in the woods completely lost and disoriented. He hears voices that taunt him and wanders desperately trying to find his way out. The sound design during these scenes is really lovely. The whispers and silences create an eerie tension that works wonderfully.
What really stunned me was the cinematography. The movie is beautifully shot. The movement is motivated and adds so much to the story. This movie is less about the facts than about the overall experience. This movie feels like a poem. A lot of what happens doesn’t make any logical sense, but it does make emotional sense. The camera shows a long way to give the film its emotional impact.
There are scenes that go on too long for me. Scenes in which Jay is demanding to know where his daughter is just feel like they could have been trimmed. They hit the same emotional beat throughout the scene and a growth or change in the emotion would have gone a long way for me. These moments are designed to make us feel the characters frustration, and it works. I just felt a sharper edit would have made the point stronger for me.
Jay’s missing daughter is played by Iris Dayton and my goodness was she good. She had a natural charm and delightful banter with the actors playing her parents. I was very impressed by her.
It’s a non traditional narrative. The story is mostly conveyed through visual metaphors. A bald plastic bust floats through the woods. An orange pill bottle makes repeated appearances. And the lost daughter Jenny appears throughout the woods at different ages. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of movie I don’t think you’ll enjoy this one. I got into it. It has strong visuals and a great score. The performers do solid work across the board. It’s a very interesting and engaging depiction of grief that I think is worth checking out.
gIVE is currently streaming on Amazon prime. It’s worth your time. It’s my cup of tea.