Saturday, November 12, 2011

Further Thoughts on High Road

Thanks, Kristian. As my first-ever LSIFF screening, High Road got things off to a good start for me. I don't have much to add to your take on the film, a low-budget indie comedy with, as you mention, quite the ensemble cast. I likewise don't expect the film to get a wide distribution but I think it's the kind of thing comedy nerds will seek out, given the preponderance of UCB, SNL, The State, Daily Show / The Office, and Party Down alums among the cast. As you say, everyone gels together, but my one "complaint" might be that High Road feels less like a film than an extended episode of the kind of television show these actors have worked on. Which isn't a necessarily bad thing. While never big, they keep the laughs coming, rarely hitting a false note. (Kristian mentions the aggressive, homophobic sex worker as one; I might add the drag-queen father, whom the script and, considering the level of improvisation, other characters don't quite know how to treat.)

While High Road is less steeped in irony than the usual indie comedy, the film's sincerity isn't nearly as cliche, problematic or gratingly overdone as the usual Hollywood fare. As the filmmakers noted in the subsequent Q&A session, because the small budget didn't allow for the kind of production choices one might expect from an Apatow joint or an action-comedy, character development was key. And perhaps that's why it felt like one of those TV shows: the characters felt lived-in and pleasantly familiar, something actors typically achieve with comic roles only over the course of a season or series. These actors, some with only a scene or two, managed to do so in under an hour and a half. -- Zack Shlachter

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