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‘No Alternative’ by William Dickerson – A Review

You’ll have ‘NO ALTERNATIVE’ not to watch this …

The book now a film No Alternativeby writer and director William Dickerson, (DETOUR, DON’T LOOK BACK) stars Michaela Cavazos as Bridget Harrison, Conor Proft as Thomas Harrison, Chloe Levine as Jackie O’Brien, Kathryn Erbe as Maureen Harrison and Harry Hamlin as William Harrison is out this Friday. The big premiere is at the ‘Dances with Films’ Festival on Opening Night June 7th at the TCL Chinese Theater.

The film takes place in typical suburbia in the aftermath and chaos of the death of Kurt Cobain and grunge. It was essentially a new age “The Day The Music Died” for many teens and young adults. ‘No Alternative’ focuses on the Harrison family a small conservative upper middle class family. The central characters though are the two teen children, Thomas (who is older) and Bridget. Thomas starts a band named the ‘Latter Day Saints’ to pay tribute to his late idol Kurt Cobain while his sister Bridget is anti Kurt, Grunge and Nirvana finds solace in rap music, something that has just hit suburban White America and with aplomb. Bridget finds a Midi Keyboard & Sequencer by the train tracks and takes it home. At home is where her at first sketchy and troublesome rap alter ego “Bri Da B” is born. Both siblings seemingly different, love music are now using music to cope and to a point share their creativity. Because according to their father William (played by Harry Hamlin in a very curt yet apoplectic performance ) both Harrison children have “issues” they just deal with them differently.  As Bridget has been medicated nearly her entire life when Thomas has not.

These “issues” as we learn in the film (and in life) are not just “issues” but Mental Illness in which the Harrison family tend to dance around. This is the central issue for this family not only is the family dealing with it. It involves a case that the father, William mishandles and his wife played by Kathryn Erbe (in a icy stoism of your typical 90s conservative Mom for most of the film) tries to keep hidden. Mental Illness is what could ultimately pull the Harrison family apart or pull them together and the director’s filmaking style, which borderlines an  almost documentary or on the go style of film. It really puts you further into the mind of certain characters. Using unique angles and lighting you feel ever more present in these characters lives and story. At times haunting and sad other times uncomfortable and brutal. Which makes the twist in this film no less shocking. One of the most emotional and hard to watch moments in this film.

My only criticism was the way certain racial issues were handled and glossed over with Bridget’s alter ego. I do know, we all have different points of views but I felt that scene could have been handled better. All in all the film is an entertaining, highly emotional if slightly morbid and tunnelistic look at a certain part of society that once ruled the world.

– Brittney W. 🙂 xx

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