The cinema of the everyday
by Laurence Boyce
03/12/2012 - Cineuropa reviews the debut British feature from Alex Barrett
Life Just Is is the debut feature from British filmmaker Alex Barrett and is a low key and talky affair about a group of university friends who are struggling with the transition into adult life.
There's Pete, the guy who is trying to discover whether there's a spiritual dimension to life, Tom and Claire, who have a strong attraction to each other but just can't quite express their feelings and Jay, who keeps withdrawing to make sure that he never gets hurt again. The film follows their lives as they move towards individual revelations that may mean that their futures – if not set in stone – become more certain.
Barrett is clearly influenced by the likes of Hal Hartley and John Cassavetes, with a languid and often sedentary style which, while it does sometimes place the film in the theatrical – with lots of scenes of people sitting around talking about the meaning of life - there's the occasional spark of flair that livens things up. Certainly, the low-budget origins of the film are apparent in both the locations – mainly your typical student-style flat – and performances with the young cast being likable but sometimes slightly unsure of themselves. But when they find the confidence there are some fine moments of dialogue and interplay.
Some audiences will immediately balk at the film because of the film's subject matter of young people talking about their problems (though they would probably be as enraged in real-life to have to find out there are people younger than them) and the movie does have its flaws. But there are points of real charm and insight and Alex Barrett is a director to watch in the future. Theatrical distribution would probably be unlikely – though Independent Distribution has picked up home entertainment rights in the UK - but this should prove of interest to festivals, especially those seeking out new talent.