All Day Long
Directed by Andrew Semans. Written, produced and edited by Drew DeNicola and Mr. Semans. Cinematography by Mark Schwartzbard. Sound design by John Bosch. With Eilis Cahill and Henry Glovinsky. 22 minutes. Released in 2007.
The new film by Andrew Semans, All Day Long eavesdrops on a boy and girl skipping class from high school. It’s an afternoon of insecurity and juvenile role play peppered with naïve declarations of love. Within the twenty-two minutes of this fleeting idyll, the pair encapsulate the awkwardness of adolescence and remind us of the dividing line between youth and maturity, the decay of innocence from disenchantment.
It’s Mr. Semans’s third film, following I Know Where I’m Going (2000; no relation to the Michael Powell film) and I’d Rather Be Dead Than Live in This World (2005). His scripts involve emotionally and intellectually inarticulate couples expressing themselves through physical action. In I’d Rather Be Dead…, a nameless man and woman meet off of the internet and immediately move in together, severing ties with the outside world to survive on stale crackers and sex. I Know Where I’m Going, presently unavailable for screening, is described by the director as “a romantic drama about yearning and heartbreak hidden in the mundane.”
Comparisons could be made with some of the ideas found in the works of John Cassavetes, Hal Hartley and Eric Rohmer, but only superficially. Those filmmakers operate from vantage points of idealism, where characters are capable of verbal communication, seduction and deception. With Mr. Semans, humanity is tongue-tied by want and desire. Articulation comes through in movement and gesture, small but hasty acts often motivated by doubt and fear. It all lacks the intensity and artistic posturing of Cassavetes, Hartley and Rohmer—but so does everyday life.
Suitably understated, All Day Long follows the girl (Eilis Cahill) on her rendezvous with the boy (Henry Glovinsky). At first relieved to be free and on their own, the mood gradually shifts from rebellious glee to tedium and self-doubt. As they fumble around one another, cinematographer Mark Schwartzbard captures a quiet desolation percolating within New Jersey’s bucolic back streets, woods and deserted shopping centers, a perfect backdrop for these two wholly natural performances.
Cahill and Glovinsky feel their way through innocuous teen chat, the ‘What do you want to do?’…‘I don’t know; what do you want to do?’ conundrum, employing body language and eye contact to full advantage. The characters’ detour into cheap thrills—beer, cigarettes, fireworks, bottle smashing—effectively underlines the aimlessness of youth marking time. For Semans, it’s an accomplished merger of tight, controlled technique with dialogue and situations brimming with truth and poignancy.
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Labels: Capsule reviews, Eric Rohmer