Review: Flat Earther

Written and directed by Brian James Crewe, co-written by star Joe Holt and Matt Keil, Martin and Cassandra’s promising second date takes an unexpected turn when their conversation challenges personal beliefs and their assumptions about each other. By the end of the night both will find they are living in a world much different than what they believed it to be. Also starring: Amy Sloan, Blythe Kala, Regis Terencio, Kate Schroeder and Hugh Aodh O’Brien.

You could potentially have a lovely evening or several evenings with someone before you happen upon a subject which you’re diametrically opposed on but once you do, there’s no saving that connection. Flat Earther takes that concept and adds the relevant themes of today, from technology to gun crime and how conspiracy theories can negatively impact the lives of those left behind in tragedies. There are certainly different levels of conspiracy theories, starting with curiosity and going all the way to twisted cynicism, and it’s a worthy discussion but this story approaches it with a fair amount of stereotype. There’s something there but it gets to the crux slowly and when it arrives, it’s short lived. It then employs too much coincidence, it’s right on the nose and makes things much too easy for itself. Although it could also been seen as satisfyingly closing the circle of this story, depending on the viewer’s perspective.

The overly coincidental nature to the story does take away from its sincerity, so although the performances are solid, they can’t bring as much emotion to the table as they’d like to. Joe Holt and Amy Sloan have a decent chemistry, capturing that new connection with potential for more. It’s fairly by the book but as their conversation falls into disarray it feels more original, bringing a good dose of tension and conflict. The move from that initial over-politeness and cheeriness which come with dating to the insulted and argumentative nature of their later dialogue, is nicely smooth. They handle the transition well and it’s the highlight of both of their performances.

With Flat Earther being dialogue based, Brian James Crewe’s direction plays things to a simple tune. It’s not entirely static, there’s some movement to it but for the most part it purely focuses on their conversation. It chooses a great location, giving the feel of being in a crowd but still retaining a sense of intimacy. That then feeds into the story as their conflict gets bigger and louder, leaving you anticipating the possible intrusion of other people and the reactions to their argument. It doesn’t quite embrace the tension as much as it could to heighten it even more but it does what it needs to do.

Flat Earther captures the intense moment of finding out the person you’re dating disagrees with you on something so fundamental that the potential relationship is thrown to the wind. It tackles its story with mixed success, there’s some fairly stereotypical content but as its conflict arises, it opens up an intensity. Joe Holt and Amy Sloan lead the story well but the tone of the film can’t quite hold the right weight to let their emotion land more sincerely. It also brings its story full circle with an overly coincidental note, it makes sense and will be enjoyed by some but it’s just too easy.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Screening as part of FirstGlance Film Festival on 16 October

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