Two days ago I wrote that seeing a film that was shot 18 months or two years ago can sometimes result (in your mind at least) in a slightly dated feeling — a hard-to-define sense of diminishment due to the film having passed its peak potency in terms of relating to the here-and-now. The case in point was an Australian thriller called The Square (Apparition, 4.9).
Lbs., a very decently written, affectingly performed little indie drama about fighting food addiction from director Matthew Bonifacio and co-writer/star Carmine Famiglietti that — get this — began principal photography in June 2001 and then played at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
The how and why of this absurd delay is explained in a section of the film’s website called “The Road To Release,” but Lbs. (a not-very-catchy title due to the abbreviation — it should been called Pounds or Fatass, even) may be the oldest indie film to ever open theatrically as a purportedly new release.
And yet, oddly, it doesn’t feel at all “dated.” Lbs. has its shaggy aspects, but there’s no denying that it has a well-honed, disarmingly honest, straight-from-the-shoulder quality. You watch and start to gradually sink into it, and you stop feeling like a smart-ass nitpicker and being bothered by time factors and whatnot.
Lbs. is about a dangerously overweight Brooklyn guy of only 27 years (Famiglietti) hitting rock bottom in terms of self-disgust and low self-esteem, and deciding to really and finally get rid of the tonnage. His method is to isolate himself from temptation by living in a crummy trailer in upstate New York and somehow discipline and bring himself along on a day-by-day, take-the-pain basis and drop 100 pounds or so.
There’s a married-girlfriend character of sorts (Miriam Shore) and a drug-addicted pally (Michael Aronov) and a villain — i.e., his food-pushing mom (Susan Varon). And there’s also a very strong performance from Lou Martini, Jr., as the groom of Famiglietti’s older sister.
A week or so ago a director-producer friend urged me to see Lbs.. He sent me a disc that arrived early last week, but I put off watching it for a few days. I finally popped it in last night, and this morning wrote the friend the following e-mail: “Not half bad. A well-acted, emotionally sincere, Italian blue-collar drama about addictions, honor, family values, and loving enablers.
“I would actually call it better than decent. It reminded me at times of Two Family House — remember that one? — and aspects of Paddy Chayefsky‘s Marty, even.”
I added that I didn’t believe that Shore’s character would be as forwardly matter-of-fact as she is in the film about wanting intimate relations with Famiglietti. I would have bought it if (a) she had been older (in her 40s, say) and indicated that she was deathly bored and in need of some random warmth, or (b) if she had confessed to having a fetish for big guys. We all know about male chubby chasers, but do women swing that way? I’ve never heard of this.
I think it may be somewhat meaningful for someone like myself, having written over and over (probably too many times) about deeply despising morbidly obese people, or more precisely the metaphor of obesity, responding to a film with this storyline. I think it speaks well to the film’s strengths.
Lbs. finally opens this Friday, and only in Manhattan yet. It should at least play Los Angeles before going off to video.