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The Independent Critic

Calvin Waldau, Skye Marie Sena, Juan Rodriguez Leon, Valeria Di Babbo, Matthew Campbell
Pat Mitchell
45 Mins.

 Movie Review: Apples, Oranges, Lemons & Limes 
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We're introduced quickly to Henry (Calvin Waldau) in writer/director Pat Mitchell's Apples, Oranges, Lemons & Lines, an introduction that immerses us into Henry's disruptive social anxiety that has impacted his middle school years. Now in high school, Henry has determined that things will be different in high school. 

Winner of dozens of indie and microcinema fest awards along its fest journey, this is a film likely to resonate with anyone who's ever sought to redirect a life that isn't going quite as planned. In this case, Henry's taught himself semi-effective coping skills for his anxiety and it's clear it's going to take everything he's got to get him through this night out with friends where he finds himself as we first meet him. 

It's also clear that it's taking every ounce of strength that Henry has to simply show up. Through Waldau's quietly disciplined performance, it's obvious that Henry's more than a bit different as the relaxed socializing that surrounds him actually requires tremendous effort for Henry. 

Apples, Oranges, Lemons & Limes centers around this one night for Henry and how an unexpected encounter opens the door to a night of drinking, joy, and romance along with the realization, perhaps, that he may not be quite as different from those around him as he thinks. Henry's hope, if you will, exists in the person of Natalie (Skye Marie Sena), a beautiful young classmate for whom Henry harbored an unrevealed crush in middle school. Given the chance to finally socialize on this very night, truths will be revealed and revelations made. 

This is not a film that necessarily deals in miraculous recoveries or Hallmark Channel love stories. Instead, it's a mostly quiet little film that takes two people who don't necessarily feel normal and at least tries to normalize them. In most ways, they start off this journey alone and it seems as if Pat Mitchell wants to tell an empathetic story indicating that they're not so alone after all. 

Waldau is a natural as Henry, a guy who radiates a confidence that he doesn't actually possess. From a certain mantra that helps him cope with his anxiety to the ways in which he carries himself, Henry starts out as someone we're not quite sure about before quickly becoming someone we adore. A good majority of that is because of Waldau's engaging performance. 

Opposite Waldau's Henry, Skye Marie Sena's Natalie beautifully captures what it's like to be the beautiful girl who becomes defined by that beauty and nothing else. Trapped inside a middle school experience that left her experiencing a different kind of trauma, Natalie is wary of socializing and wary of Henry's borderline idealizing of her. Sena drops truth bombs galore here and yet it never feels histrionic. Instead, it feels partly revealing and partly practically daring Henry to stick around even when things get sticky for a bit. I kept thinking of the underrated film Untamed Heart, a 1993 film starring Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei that possesses a similar boldness and intimacy. 

The award-winning music by Andrew Scott Foust is effective throughout and Mitchell's own lensing for the film captures both the warmth and potential menace of residential streetlights and simply walking down the street with one another. It's all quite nicely done. 

Existing in a weird space between short film and feature, this just shy of 45-minute film accomplishes quite a bit during its time and the self-taught Mitchell is definitely a filmmaker to watch in the future. With a strong ensemble cast and talented production team, Mitchell has crafted a relatable and engaging film that touches the heart and the mind with compassion, understanding, and tenderness.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic