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Everything Moves Alone   B+

Hale Manor Productions

Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Mike Aransky
Writer: Thomas Edward Seymour
Cast: Philip Guerette, Thomas Edward Seymour, Matt Ford, Tina Angelillo, Mike Aransky, Kelly Robinson.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Everything Moves Alone is a charming comedy-drama about a guy finding his way in life despite having been given a lousy deck of cards to play with. The main character, Scotch (Philip Guerette), arrives in a small New England town after being discharged from the Army. He plans to hit up his brother for a place to crash, but it's been years since they've talked and they aren't on good terms. At the bus depot, Scotch meets a guy named Anderson (Thomas Edward Seymour), who gives him a ride into town in exchange for help in dumping a dirt-filled frog-shaped flowerpot onto another guy's car. This draws Scotch into the ongoing feud between Anderson and the car's owner, McDunley (Matt Ford), a short-tempered fella who runs the local video store. It's with trepidation that Scotch finally drags himself to his brother's house and gives the door a knock.

Scotch's brother, Rob (Mike Aransky), isn't happy to see him. To earn his keep (for the night, at least), Rob demands that he walk to the video store and rent the latest video starring the Olsen Twins -- and, hey, that's the least of his brother's weird obsessions. While the movie inevitably puts some emphasis on Scotch reconciling his relationship with his brother, more screen time is devoted to the developing friendship between Scotch and the emotionally evasive Anderson. In addition to Anderson giving Scotch tips on asking a pretty girl out, the new buddies spend lots of time hanging out at the local diner, pulling pranks on McDunley, and talking about trivial crap. Luckily, the dialogue is amusing enough to keep things moving right along even when the plot is going nowhere.

Naturally, plot isn't the point here. This is a film about its characters and the way they relate to each other -- and, moreover, the way they deal with their own emotional baggage. Stringing the characters along with a more developed plot would have been a mistake; instead, the events play out in a way that's more relaxed and engaging than if the film had been constricted by a tighter plot. Indeed, the only time Everything Moves Alone loses its footing is in its final third with the introduction of a subplot that helps bring about some resolutions between characters and resolves a mystery that wasn't much of a mystery to begin with. Yet the film has enough charm to keep it afloat even when it takes a wrong step.

The film's charm can be attributed to many things -- not the least of which is the obvious passion that went into making it. The film was produced by three of its stars (Guerette, Seymour, and Aransky), who shot it on 16mm film with a $9,000 budget. While director Aransky comes off as little more than a caricature as Scotch's rude and infantile brother, Guerette and Seymour fare much better. As Scotch and Anderson, they have a shaggy chemistry that's always a pleasure to watch; they also have good comic timing as well as the dramatic chops to switch gears and hit the slightly more serious notes when needed. It's not easy to pull off a sweet-natured comedy-drama that's both funny and touching, but they do it without forcing the laughs too hard or stooping to cheap sentimentality.

The nicely photographed Connecticut countryside serves as the backdrop throughout, and the warm scenic beauty gives the movie an intimate, homespun quality that's refreshing. Likewise, the film as a whole is refreshing -- even inspiring -- in its earnest simplicity. For those of us who feel we've been dealt a lousy deck in life, Everything Moves Alone reaffirms the notion that it's up to us to make it into something better.

Review published 07.29.2002.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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