Directed by: Dave Christiano
Starring: Michael Blain-Rozgay, Stacey J. Aswad, Hugh McLean, Jenna Bailey, Sandi Fix, Terry Loughlin
What exactly can be said about Dave Christiano’s Me & You, Us, Forever? It has a certain local interest in that it was made in Hendersonville and Greenville, S.C. Technically, it’s not a bad-looking movie, which is to say it’s in focus, the camerawork is competent and the lighting is fine. At the same time, there’s little in it that you’d call visually interesting—and it doesn’t help that nearly all the “action” takes place in the blandest, least interesting settings imaginable. However, the blandness of those settings and the overall film complement each other perfectly. I don’t know when I’ve ever seen a less interesting or more dramatically neutered movie.
The whole pitch is a little wanting and the execution more so. Christiano based the movie on his own life—making a strong case against autobiography on the screen. The movie centers on Dave (Michael Blain-Rozgay), the 47-year-old Christian victim of a divorce he didn’t want. He’s a paragon of virtue (as opposed to his barely glimpsed ex-wife, whom he characterizes as having “dated a lot of men” since the divorce, which I guess is code for being promiscuous). His virtue is evidenced by the fact that he—along with the rest of the cast—spends a lot of time talking about Jesus. (Yes, I know this is a “Christian” film, but I’ve been to church services that were subtler than the “preachification” on display here.)
His divorce has caused him to think back to his first love—a girl named Mary (played in flashbacks by Kathryn Worsham)—and the regret he feels over having broken up with her when he was 17. (It never occurs to him or much of anyone else that 17-year-olds are neither known for savvy choices, nor are they terribly likely to reflect the adults they’ll become.) Indeed, the movie starts with him ferreting out an old high-school yearbook in a library (just why a library in the film’s nonspecific South would have a yearbook from a school in New York is never explained) so that he can look at her picture—and wistfully run his fingers across her image. (I realize that this is a trip down memory lane, but there’s still something a little unsettling about a 47-year-old obsessing over the image of a 16-year-old girl.)
This one scene pretty much nails down the film’s positively funereal pacing—all of which is aggravated by Christiano’s amateurish inability to cut to the meat of his scenes. It never occurs to him that Dave only needs to pull the yearbook from the shelf, and the film could cut to him sitting at the table looking at it. No, Dave has to look and look for the book, find it, walk over to the table, sit down etc. The pattern constantly repeats itself throughout the film with people doing such fascinating things as parking a car, getting out of the car, locking the car, walking across a parking lot, going into a building and so on. Then again, this is about as close as the movie comes to action. A lot of the movie consists of Dave “thinking” and “remembering,” which means that Mr. Blain-Rozgay strokes his chin and stares into space every few minutes.
Otherwise, the movie’s consumed with talk, talk and more talk. Should he go see Mary 30 years later? Shouldn’t he? What are the moral implications of paying a call on your presumably now-married high-school girlfriend? Is the pretty woman (Stacey J. Aswad) from his Christian divorce support group becoming more than just a friend? Should she? Shouldn’t she? The real question is will you care? My guess is you won’t. I’ve no doubt that Christiano is completely sincere in his attempt here, and I applaud anyone who can get a film made on this level of production, but the results are simply not very good. Worse, they’re just plain dull. Rated PG for thematic elements.