Little Pieces (2015)
Directed by Adam Nelson
Starring Finnian Nainby-Luxmore, Graham Cawte, Isabelle Glinn
A First Step
Low budget films are usually a coin toss. On one side, you have a film that is really difficult to create professionally due to budget constrictions. On the other, you have the opportunity to make something truly great that exceeds all expectations. Just look at films like Rocky or my personal favorite low budgeter Primer. Rocky had the “meager” budget resources of 1 Million U.S. dollars and went on to win best picture. Primer had the even more drastic resource pool of 7,000$ and won numerous prizes including one from Sundance Film Festival and was praised by the late great Roger Ebert. Perhaps because we have seen it can be done, I am hesitant to grant Little Pieces too much mercy for some of its faults. When we were sent the link to view this film, it was accompanied by a page detailing the hard work that went into its’ production as well as the budgetary limits and time constraints of shooting for only 19 days. While this does make me appreciate the film more for what it is, the average viewer is not sent a press packet and so will not have the same reaction without some research. Little Pieces is an impressive directorial feat for a new director in the field which shows potential, but ultimately needs polish.
Our story focuses around the lives of two brothers, each with their own demons to face. Neither can seem to catch a break, and they are swiftly running out of rope. This premise gives an opening for some dark multilayered characters that are worth getting involved with. Unfortunately, due to some awkward acting and similarly based dialogue they do not earn much interest until around two-thirds of the way into the films hour and a half long runtime. However, the supporting cast fares slightly better most notably with Graham Cawte, which is not necessarily fair since he unlike most of the cast and crew has a number of professional roles under his belt. Though his role is minor, he easily emotes a tortured soul living among a society that does not understand. Also worth mention is Isabelle Glinn who is a small ray of sunshine among an otherwise bleak story. Her constant smile is infectious and even out of place sometimes but she is easily one of the better put together characters.
The one aspect of this film that I loved as much as I despised was the direction. As I said before, the beginning segment of this film is dreadfully slow and hard to watch, but if you can stick around for the long haul you are rewarded. The opening scene is just a protagonist running for five minutes among some a background with terrible white balance and absence of color but at a halfway point, there is interaction between two characters in a dark and sinister lighting that was surprisingly tense. The film is shot Memento style, (unsurprising, as the director mentioned that one of his inspirations was Nolan) in tiny snippets forwards and backwards in time. While this approach works for films like Memento, the sections of story we are shown are so miniscule, it is incredibly hard to follow what is happening. Again, this gets better as time passes but the initial moments are incredibly frustrating. The entire film almost feels like a learning experience for director Adam Nelson; weak at first but evolving and eventually improving into a worthwhile experience by the end. Because of this, I look forward to his next work to see where he goes. It’s not perfect and has a lot of room to grow, but can be worth it if you are willing to endure the bad for the good. RDR gives Little Pieces a 6.5 out of 10.