The Wait was part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in the Visions category. Jenna Malone and Chloe Sevigny, both mostly mainstream actors, star in the film. It has an interesting plot, to say the least, so I took a chance on it on my last day at SXSW.
The Wait revolves around a mother’s death and the hope that she will awaken and be resurrected. Chloe Sevigny plays the older sister, Emma, while Jenna Malone plays the younger sister, Angela. The sisters are polar opposite of each other. Emma is more free-spirited, a little odd, and not very responsible. Angela is the voice of reason and responsibility and is not prone to whims or anything too odd. The film opens with their mother’s death. While we learn during the film that the death is not unexpected, the sisters have different coping mechanisms. A random call after the mother’s death supposedly from a psychic leads Emma to believe that their mother will rise again. The normal planning for a burial and a funeral are put on delay as Emma holds onto hope that their mother will return.
Like with other SXSW Film entries, The Wait borders on being an abstract form of art. It uses a camera filter similar to something you might find on Instagram, which gives the film a more “artsy” feel. It uses a combination of images, events, landscapes, and interesting conversations to set itself apart. The film is set in the Oregon mountains in a sort of cabin retreat for the wealthy. This setting lends itself to some beautiful shots of the scenery surrounding the cabins. The characters are complex and their details and life story are not doled out in the beginning, but can be slowly picked up from actions and conversations throughout the film.
Confusion is not something to strive towards in a film unless you can resolve it by the end or at least give the audience a pretty good idea of what was happening. Confusion and disinterest plague The Wait. After about the first hour, the audience needs something interesting to keep its attention. They want to figure out what is going on in the film, and even with the ending, it still is not clear.
The actors do a good job with what is given to them. Granted, they probably had more of an idea about what was actually going to happen and the purpose of the film. Luke Grimes plays a neighbor’s son, and I still do not know if he was supposed to be some sort of prophet or otherworldly figure. He has some bizarre requests of the other characters, and his actions are equally bizarre. Is he a stalker? I have no clue. Devon Gearhart plays Emma and Angela’s little brother who is kind of creepy and stalkerish in his own right. Apparently crazy runs in the family because Emma has plenty of it to go around also. Angela is the only one who is semi-grounded in reality, but she eventually begins to lose her grasp as well.
The Wait tries to be more artistic and profound that it should ever be. I still do not know what happens in the end, and it does not involve a zombie mother. The closest film I can compare it to at SXSW is Upstream Color just in terms of its artistic vision and a puzzling plot. However, The Wait is not Upstream Color and does not keep our attention or make us care enough to figure out what is happening to these characters. This film just does not work, especially for a wide audience.
I give The Wait 1 “Time Capsule” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek