2013 Newport Beach Film Festival Movie Review: In Lieu of Flowers

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ILOF_Poster Final 4.22.13 - PDFNot familiar with this movie? It’s okay. This is an official selection of the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival with no fate as of yet, but I wouldn’t right it off quite yet. In Lieu of Flowers is quite frankly another one of your stereotypical indie films with some heart, a good solid base, and some known actors that supply some compelling acting. The great debate will become of the movies ability to capture an audience and whether or not a distributor will be willing to support it.

Written and directed by William Savage, not many will have a basis of what to expect. This is a film that isn’t going to gain notice by a well-known director or a star-studded cast. The most known actor may very well be from a small role by Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch. However, I hope this little flick may draw some attention from raw emotion and believable relatable characters.

In Lieu of Flowers follows the story of two strangers that have recently lost their love ones in quite different ways whose lives intertwine in a support group for people that have lost someone.  Eric, played Josh Pence (The Social Network), is coming to terms with a harsh break-up where he FEELS like his girlfriend has died opposed to Rachel, portrayed by Spencer Grammar (Greek), whom has actually lost her husband in a tragic death.  The two are faced with losses, but in quite different ways.

This Romantic sort-of-like Comedy follows these two as their paths meet and are pushed into awkward conversations as they attempt to relate and act as a supporting shoulder one another.  You will fall instantly in love with Spencer Grammer’s character as her quick wit and cuteness quickly charms Eric. However, it is Eric’s humorous way of dealing with Rachel’s direct putdowns that makes his character seem a little too quick to get his spunk back.

The two of them build a great chemistry and feels natural, for the most going, and really adds to this done-before story.  This is your typical boy and girl meet and fall for one another upon odd circumstances from a place where they would least expect and then overcome their emotional past to fall for each other. Don’t worry as I didn’t ruin anything. This scenario will quickly be figured out by any average movie-goer.

The film is fortunately able to stand apart by having that wonderful raw feeling that many indies pull off, but I’m not so sure it’s memorable.  In Lieu of Flowers lacks a good score until we reach toward the end and the music changes from forgettable royalty-free sounding music you’ll find in most low budget indies to poetic adult alternative.  This allows the film to build and add to the story William Savage is showing us on the screen.

The supporting cast with the likes of Melissa Rauch and Nathan Corddry do add to the film, but are not there enough to truly make a difference. The supporting cast like Eric’s group of buddies was a perfect opportunity to spread more humor as well to break it up from just the leading two. Sadly his pals are almost too rude toward his situation and never show any sense of care for him. This even seems the case for his close friend who tends to not offer much support.

It’s also important for any good movie to have those quiet moments to create tension, awkwardness or seriousness; but like many indie films, it just felt forced during the first half. I must say that there are moments that this is done correctly where it made my heart stop for a moment as I felt a sense of what I believe the actor would be feeling. This makes any good movie great. Thankfully there are many GREAT moments.

Hopefully I am getting across that there are a few flaws but at the same time, some many beautiful powerful moments that help this movie stand above others. It will be up to the distributors to take that risk and decide if the general audience will be noticing these or will it just fall flat for them.  It definitely left a feeling of emotion for me, which to me is a successful film. I unfortunately don’t know if I will be remembering this movie come next year’s Newport Beach Film Festival.