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Justus Zimmerman, Casey Ruggieri, Nick Caballero
Oliver Robbins

Echelon Studios (DVD)
 "29,000 Wishes, 1 Regret" Review 
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In 29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret. Kevin (Justus Zimmerman) and Jennifer Alpern (Casey Ruggieri) are an up-and-coming married couple whose facade of happiness begins to show its cracks when the recession hits and both lose their jobs. When new jobs can't be found and their home is list, Kevin and Jennifer come to the conclusion that a few months of happiness are far better than a lifetime of desperation and financial struggle. So, the two decide to max out their credit cards to the tune of $29,000 and live their lives fulfilling their every wish - then, they will kill themselves.

29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret. is written and directed by Oliver Robins, best known for his starring role in Poltergeist. The film is, at its heart, a film about two people unhappy with themselves who must, if they are to survive, find a way to make peace with themselves and with each other.

Inspired by the harsh realities Robins saw when he looked around after the financial meltdown, 29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret. is an emotionally honest and realistic glimpse inside the struggles of a couple once they become downwardly mobile. The film is beautifully acted by its co-leads, Justus Zimmerman and Casey Ruggieri, who perfectly embody a young man and woman with all their intimacies, vulnerabilities, immaturity and occasionally shallow ways.

Kevin is an instantly likable young man who uses humor to mask his emotional discomfort, but who is also charming and attractive enough that we completely believe in his connection with the more controlled and narcissistic Jennifer. While the two are different in many ways, it's clear that their desire for a better life has created a peaceful union.

What happens when that better life becomes impossible?

Oliver Robins, who also wrote Hallmark Channel's highest rated June premiere You've Got a Friend, has created a decidedly non-Hallmark film with 29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret., a film that avoids over-sentimentality in favor of stark reality. The film is actually at its best when Zimmerman and Ruggieri are at their most vulnerable. On a certain level, Zimmerman and Ruggieri bring to mind the performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams from the acclaimed Blue Valentine. While the latter film was certainly more graphic and raw in its presentation, Robins' film is just as heartbreaking and honest in the way that it honestly portrays the disintegration of hope and belief in self and one another.

Filmed on a modest $2,000 production budget, 29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret. accomplishes amazing things despite its inherent technical limitations. Co D.P.'s Robins and Csaba Fikker do a wonderful job photographing the inner workings of this couple by allowing the camera to linger long enough that it captures the words left unspoken. The film is also complemented nicely by Scott Gilman's exceptional original music.

29,000 Wishes. 1 Regret. has been picked up by Echelon Entertainment for a worldwide release in Summer 2012. For more information on the film, visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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