BIFF Film Review: Pincus

  The strength of any film festival comes with its ability to find hidden gems and give them a real opportunity to shine. As such, in terms of raw talent, Bradford's Uncharted States of America strand has become a real goldmine and annually represents the festival's strongest category. Neil Young , the programmer who schedules these movies (and not the other, more famous "Neil Young"), has demonstrated a real eye for unearthing hidden treasure and, in uncovering Small Form Films , has managed to bring a real roster of unbelievably prolific and eclectic film-makers to a deserved, and highly appreciative, audience in Bradford.

   This year's festival sees the return of David Nordstrom who has played a hand in sculpting the best features in each of the last two years. In 2011 Nordstrom acted as editor on the film LiTTLEROCK and last year returned as the director/star of the emotionally brutal Sawdust City. Whilst it's clear that Nordstrom has a considerable skill set behind the camera, and the controlled manner in which his directorial debut was handled has made me incredibly eager to see him once again embrace making his own films, it is also just as clear that he is an actor of some distinction. It is in this capacity which Nordstrom appears in Pincus.

   Directed by David Fenster, Pincus is a low-key slice-of-life comedy about a thirtyish slacker struggling with the responsibilities of adult hood - whilst his father (portrayed by Fenster's real life Dad) is suffering from Parkinson's, Pincus (Nordstrom) finds it difficult to balance a new found love of new age philosophising, the running of the family construction firm and, ultimately, a romantic interest who enters his life.

   Pincus, the character, and Pincus, the film, are clearly different beasts. It becomes clear from early in the movie, in which Pincus is shown dressing his elderly father, that the young American has many adult responsibilities; yet judging by the spate of phone calls he receives announcing a lack of professionalism in his business' conduct, and his response of buying a large bag of cannabis to deal with this, his behaviour show just how badly he is coping as stress pulses through his veins. Yet, in contrast to this, Fenster's movie is the exact opposite - Pincus, the man, is highly-strung and tense at all times whereas Pincus, the movie, coasts along at a laconic, lackadaisical speed with little to no urgency. It's an interesting combination which, like the "colour blocking" trend in the world of fashion, highlights the intrinsic differences between the two at all times.

   Fenster takes a light, minimalist touch to his film-making; the camera-work is loose (as to be expected from an indie of this budget, the majority of shots are handheld), and the score constitutes nothing more than the occasional non-diegetic swell of weightless, atonal ambience. In many ways, it is this approach to the soundtrack which can best sum up the film - despite another wonderful performance by Nordstrom, as a cantankerous, quick to anger man trapped in a world of continual stress, Pincus is a rather a weightless feature; one which always threatens to become an interesting piece without ever quite achieving this. It's wry whilst never threatening hilarity, it touches on deep subjects' surfaces whilst never threatening profundity.

   Like it's protagonist, who's life has no clear direction, Pincus coasts along harmlessly enough without ever really achieving much at all. In this respect, maybe the film and the character aren't so different after all.

* This film was showing as part of Bradford International Film Festival. You can see Pincus' official site here .

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