Local filmmaker Paul Schattel’s new film Alison is being screened this week at the Fine Arts Theatre. The film follows a stretch in the life of thirtysomething pregnant woman Alison (Lauren Fortuna), who leaves her husband (David Macdonald) and moves into a rundown motel where she tries to figure out how the life she had and the life she thought she would have went wrong. In most ways, the film is a significant advance on Schattel’s first feature. Although there may be a little too much hand-held camera, this is every inch a good-looking film. Many of the shots are interestingly composed and none are in the least awkward. It’s also a structurally challenging film, which makes it constantly interesting. How the film will appeal to viewers dramatically probably depends a great deal on whether or not the characters strike the viewer as sympathetic or identifiable. I can’t say that I found them either—and yet I also can’t deny that the film’s payoff (it isn’t a resolution) did strike a chord of emotional resonance.
It’s worth noting that Alison is the result of a scant 12-day shoot and was done without a script, making its technical achievements all the more impressive. It’s also simply another important chapter in the growth of local filmmaking and as such deserves our support.
Also on the bill is the 20-minute short Men of Persuasion—a cleverly scripted black comedy that was written and produced by Jamie Parker and directed by Paul Schattel. It makes an interesting companion piece to Alison, and is something of a contrast in tone and approach.