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The Wait (A Movie Review)

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

The Wait

THE WAIT (2013)

Starring Jena Malone, Chloë Sevigny, Luke Grimes, Josh Hamilton, Devon Gearhart, Lana Green, Michael O'Keefe, Trey Hansen, Karen Tolvstad and Henry Gummer.

Screenplay by M. Blash.

Directed by M. Blash.

Distributed by Monterey Media. 96 minutes. Rated R.

The Wait is both gorgeously filmed and acted and annoyingly artsy at the same time. A very loose variation on Samuel Beckett's classic play Waiting For Godot, the film mostly hovers around three adult children in differing stages of mourning for their mother, who dies of an unspecified-but-apparently-long-term illness as the film begins.

Soon after mom breathes her last breath, as youngest daughter Angela (Jena Malone) is dressing the body, older sister Emma (Chloë Sevigny) receives a call on mom's land line. A strange woman's voice tells Emma that everything happens for a reason and if they wait, their mother will be back.

Angela thinks it is crazy to listen to some stranger about something so important. But either in a state of total denial (or total insanity) Emma insists on seeing if this call really is some sort of supernatural intervention or prophecy.

So, instead of, you know, burying their mother, they lay her on the floor by her bed, under a blanket and some potpourri (is that supposed to cover the smell?) and they, uh, wait.

While waiting they stare out into the distance, take long walks in mom's gorgeous rustic Oregon neighborhood, dance, fight, smoke, eat, drink, chat and flirt with some of the locals (who mostly seem just as offbeat as the family), laugh at inappropriate things, engage in foreplay, watch a far-off forest fire, bathe, play on the computer, get haircuts and plan a party for when and if mom comes back.

Teen brother Ian (Devon Gearhart) seems to want to have nothing to do with any of this, so he heads out into the woods, stalks a cute girl who works at the candy store, has a sexual identity crisis with a neighboring friend and show the kid's dad a web video of a little girl being hit by a train.

That's pretty much it.

The Wait is a gorgeous film, stunningly shot and set in a spectacular backwoods area of Oregon. Seriously, it would even work just as a travelogue of the area. The film is moody and quiet and just a bit too subtle for its own good.

Sevigny does her normal fine work as the emotionally shattered older daughter. Malone also finds a quirky depth as the much more outgoing younger daughter.

The two sisters pass the time. Angela walks around in a funk, eventually getting involved in a bruised romance with a local guy (Luke Grimes). Emma uses the time trying to bond with her young daughter and coming to grips with all that has happened.

Intellectually and psychologically it's all rather interesting. From a strictly cinematic standpoint, though, it does not always connect.

Unlike Waiting for Godot, The Wait actually does have something of an eventual payoff. I won't say exactly what it is for fear of being a spoiler, but even this climax is exceedingly ambiguous. In fact, a scene that happened soon before it appears to undercut the entire idea of the ending, leaving the audience confused and divided.

Then again, a movie that keeps the audience talking after they leave is more interesting than one they will forget right away.

The audience gets the strong feeling that screenwriter M. Blash's characters act as they do not because of character or plot, but simply because the writer is trying desperately to be artily offbeat. I mean the younger brother is so disaffected that he often wears his hoodie zipped up over his face. We're talking deep here. And not in a good way.

However, if Blash is pretentious and a little difficult to warm up to as a writer, he makes an assured and impressive director with a keen visual sense and also a firm grasp of mood. The Wait is a spectacularly beautiful film to look at. Particularly considering the low budget, The Wait is extremely evocative in sense of mood and structure.

If he comes up with a movie idea that is as interesting as his skills as a director deserve, that will really be something to see. But Blash is not quite there yet.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: January 31, 2014.


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