SKIPPING STONES (2020)
Starring Nathaniel Ansbach, Gabrielle Kalomiris, Michael Ironside, Patricia Charbonneau, Chase Masterson, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Justy Kosek, Michael Spellman, Diana Cherkas, Anne Griffin, Alison Stover, Lisa Hampton, Ashlyn Alessi and Varvara Cardenas.
Screenplay by Rich Cirillo.
Directed by S.J. Creazzo.
Distributed by Dreamality Entertainment. 119 minutes. Not Rated.
The title to the film Skipping Stones brings to mind a certain placid charm – sitting by a lake in the spring sunset, lazily tossing rocks into the tranquil water. Of course, we all realize that no matter how peaceful the body of water may look, there is much turmoil going on underneath the surface.
That goes for people’s lives as well.
Skipping Stones is drama about trying to survive tragedy and how the effects of grief and guilt can ripple through lives for years. It is obviously a labor of love – director S.J. Creazzo states in the film’s press kit that the movie was filmed “with a cast and crew of less than 15 people, an all-in-budget of less than $75K, and 16 shooting days.”
So, for such a DIY project, the movie packs a bit of a wallop. It is smart, heartfelt and occasionally a tiny bit melodramatic, but Skipping Stones captures the horrific web of trauma and guilt that can haunt survivors long after.
It tells a simple story, that of a young college-aged student named David (Nathaniel Ansbach) who years earlier as a young teen had witnessed his best friend’s death, returning to his hometown after dropping out of college. He is still trying to cope with the “tragic accident” and being back where it happened is not exactly making the hurt any easier. (We are not told exactly what happened until late in the film.)
Instead, he drinks to heavy excess, broods about the past and even discomfits his old friends and family obsessing about something that they are all trying to leave behind.
Then he runs into his old friend’s little sister Amanda (Gabrielle Kalomiris) at a bar. Even though she was very young when her brother died, she is a bit of a lost soul, living in a home that has been pulled apart by the tragedy. Her mother has become emotionally dead to her, her father is ineffectually trying to keep the peace.
Amanda wants to be a dancer but is afraid she is not good enough. (Although a solo dance she does alone in a studio to a song called “Tom Waits Crooning” seems to bely her lack of faith.) She is afraid she’ll never leave her dead-end hometown and was excited that David had escaped to college in New York, and then was disappointed that he’d come back.
They find a connection through their disconnection, a mutual sense of longing and ennui, and quickly are spending a lot of time together trying to figure out their lives. The attraction is not sexual (although there may be some undercurrents of that), it’s spawned from a shared sense of loss and hunger for something better.
Of course, David has a secret which may tear them apart if he ever finds the courage to express it.
There are also some deep secrets regarding their parents (played by Michael Ironside, Patricia Charbonneau, Chase Masterson and Daniel Hugh Kelly, the closest things to “big-name” actors in the film) which neither one had picked up on as kids. But does picking at the scabs help anyone?
Relative unknowns Nathaniel Ansbach and Gabrielle Kalomiris impress in the lead roles (particularly Kalomiris, who shines in her first movie part), with smart, realistic performances. Supporting roles are also good, particularly Ironside going against type as David’s understanding father who is willing to overlook issues to keep the peace, and Kelly as the victim’s dad who is harboring a load of guilt himself.
And if the climax is a little bit too coincidental and a little bit too dark, well that’s how life goes sometimes.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 2, 2022.