Have you ever watched something you wanted to be good, so you allowed it to improve in your mind with each ongoing minute?
By eliminating, in our minds, the existence of all other films from the genre with which we ought to contrast, we hope a good story survives.
Such is the struggle of Dark Star's digital film release, The Accompanist..
Beautiful music, riveting ballet, breathtaking landscapes, and gorgeous cinematography utterly steer the focus. Remarkable stuff.
I wish I could end the review there.
I want to give utmost respect to the process, to the indie LGBTQ+ film community -- though we oughtn't need to label films as LGBTQ+ anymore -- and to the painful labors of love involved in writing and producing.
As an artist myself, I don't want to ream any project with such love and passion at its heart. It's very clear what the project means to writer/director/star Frederick Keeve.
Keeve's music and piano playing are outstanding. The desire to present that talent at the center of the film hazily hovers atop its plot, performances, and forced dialogue.
The plot establishes certain harmonies and melodies can alter the space/time continuum.
Could be interesting -- if only it were fully developed.
The love story is fast. Too fast.
The dialogue is ... well, I'll just cite some for your adjudication:
After ballet student Brandon (Ricky Palomino) asks accompanist Jason (Keeve) to play his own music for a rehearsal -- rather than classical standards -- Jason refuses and jumps at him with "You won't like it."
Brandon quickly quips back, "Will you trust me? Whatever this big secret is, I can handle it!"
This exchange is early in the screenplay, and the two have barely met. No discussion of "big secrets" occurs prior. I thought I had missed something.
Soon after, Jason plays an original composition. Suddenly: an earthquake. Items fall off the walls and the lights go off (though it appears the camera is doing the shaking).
Brandon gets up off the floor after the shakes thrust him down mid dance.
"What the hell was that? Did you feel that?" Brandon asks.
Did he feel that? I had to laugh to myself, imagining the reacton had Jason answered, "Felt what?"
The romance increases immediately from there. And in a later scene, Jason's son, Max (Christopher Pawl) has a conversation with dad in their kitchen.
All of a sudden -- and out of nowhere -- he asks what Jason and mother Karen (Jeannette Driver) were arguing over prior to an accident that is key to the story.
He asks if the fight was about Jason's homosexuality and quickly forays into, "We know what you and Brandon are doing!"
The artistic choice desired for the scene may have been slight surrealism, but the conversation itself is another example of shoddy dialogue work.
And that shoddiness is a shame.
I do think there is a story to be told here -- one that is difficult to excavate.
I would rather see this story portrayed as a filmic ballet; I believe it's meant as one.
Remove the dialogue, inflate the artistically styled cinematography, include all the dancing and lovely piano music that is at the core of why the piece was created, and create a truly unique and imaginatively sensationalized experience.
That is a film I would pay to see.
As it stands, the underexplained semi sci-fi element is bizarrely juxtaposed with the under-developed love story and an under-executed sub-plot that appears to have been slapped in to add dramatic value.
Any elements of surprise are fogged by anticipatory setups leading to a denoument that might seem interesting had the audience ever maintained a grip on the point of the overall arc.
I did manage to look up a John Todd -- in the role of Ryan the choreographer -- only to discover the talented man just lost a fight with cancer. Such a Shame. RIP, Mr. Todd.
Factors like the tragic death of a cast member, a lusty desire to support independent films with unique stories, and a respect for the production elements, make watching a not-quite-ready film like The Accompanist unfortunate to have to critique.
My hope is that the filmmaker and production crew can do something spectacular with this story, or another, in a future project (or three).
Creativity flows unharvested through this film; it needs to be shaped into something palatable.
I look forward to further ideas by these minds -- ideas shaped into a film that can be digested and chewed by more than just the gay community.
The Accompanist, "a timely gay love story with music at its heart," is available June 2 on digital outlets from Dark Star Pictures.
We would like to hear from those of you have have seen the film. Click on the comments section below and give us what-for if you disagree. Share the elements you did or did not enjoy.
Something else we'd love to know: what are you favorite LGBTQ+ themed films?
And must they still fall into that category? Or can they be accepted as mainstream in this day and age?
Kerr Lordygan is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.