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Jun. 19 2010 - 12:38 pm | 89 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Movie Review: ‘Audrey The Trainwreck’ a rewarding challenge

The first question you might ask watching “Audrey The Trainwreck,” the sixth film from local Mumblecore devotee Frank V. Ross, is who is Audrey and why is she a trainwreck? There isn’t a single character in the film named Audrey, much less a trainwreck, literally or figuratively. Other questions may come up too, like “Why?” and “What’s the point?” Those may only be natural, and understandable, given the scenes that casually come and go revolving around random dates, office life, a game of volleyball and conversations in bars. Then there’s an abrupt, startling ending that leaves everything dangling in the air.

That may be enough you need to know to skip “Audrey,” but if you’re a cinema buff who likes to be challenged, who beams whenever a film explores real people, when it authentically, delicately showcases little slices of life, then “Audrey The Trainwreck” is one you should catch.

The film centers around Ron (Anthony Baker), a disgruntled 20-something working a job he won’t admit he despises. Ron’s a pretty selfish guy, and oblivious to his behavior. In one well-done scene, he expresses remorse for his broken George Foreman grill even though his troubled friend Scott (Danny Rhodes) calls him in the middle of the night, sounding troubled. In another he complains that higher education is pointless to Stacey (Alexi Wasser), a girl he’s begun to date, even though she cares about getting a degree. When a friend’s friend he meets in a bar (Nick Offerman, from ‘Parks and Recreation’) starts talking down about Ron’s job, Ron finally goes ballistic. Of course, he’s just gotten a taste of his own medicine, and now, he can take baby steps to making a better life for himself, and treating people better in turn.

Ron can be pretty unlikable, but he’s played with such authenticity and humanity by Baker that it’s hard not to identify with him on some level. Wasser, Rhodes and the rest of the ensemble match him note for note. It’s all appropriately, intimately shot by David Lowery, and overall well directed by Ross, who has a keen eye for personal behavior and for showing it to his audience in a way that’s revealing without being too blatant or contrived. Scenes like an awkward bridal shower or an intimate late night conversation speak volumes without explicitly saying much at all.

“Audrey” reflects Robert Altman and John Cassavettes films in the way it stages simple, realistic scenes that show pieces of a picture, that allude to deeper truths, without explicitly stating any character’s intention or simplifying their personalities. People often go to movies for escape, for an easy-to-follow story featuring easy-to-peg characters that come to a satisfying, happy resolution. “Audrey” isn’t the movie for those people. But by showing slices of real, identifiable life, it makes you think about your own. And that too is a gift that can come from a good movie.

Grade: B

“Audrey The Trainwreck” is being shown at 8 p.m. June 19th and 23rd and 6 p.m. June 21st at The Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. Ross will be present at all screenings. Tickets are $10 and available here.


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    About Me

    I came to Chicago for college because I liked the look of fire escapes snaking down alleyways, because I wanted to see what this Second City comedy thing was all about, because "The Blues Brothers" and "The Untouchables" made it look like the coolest city ever. And while I've never been chased down by hundreds of cop cars or involved in a slow motion shootout on the steps at Union Station, I still find Chicago to be the greatest city in the world. Architecture, food, Midwestern values and people aside, it's the arts scene that really makes Chicago come alive, be it the witty and wonderful wordplay over at The Second City and Steppenwolf, or the stirring sounds of the city's orchestra or rock bands at Schubas and Metro, or the mind-blowing flicks I've caught at the Music Box (including David Cronenberg's classic "Scanners," in which a mind does literally blow).

    I've lived in Chicago on and off since 2001, and having done the entertainment reporting thing ever since, it's my honor to report on the city's movie, music and performance scenes for True/Slant. I consider it a mission from God.

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