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The Independent Critic

Briana Ratterman Trevithick, Matthew Dibiasio, Lucas Friedman
Daniel M. Hill
91 Mins.

 Movie Review: Beth + Jeremy & Steve 
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There's a weird, darkly comical sense of melancholy that radiates through writer/director Daniel M. Hill's feature debut Beth + Jeremy & Steve, an indie dramedy set in a world where coming-of-age never seems to end and where the need for human connection butts heads with the realities of cultural expectations and contemporary marriage.

Beth (Briana Ratterman Trevithick) is married to Steve (Matthew Dibiasio), though it's apparent early on that both have reached a point in their marriage where something is missing and decisions likely need to be made. It's not so much that they're unhappy, though that would have been the easier narrative choice, it's that they're two complex human beings who have grown apart in some ways and now have to figure out if growing back together really makes sense. 

Beth has an unexpected record store encounter with Jeremy (Lucas Friedman), whose extensive record knowledge both excites her and fuels her sense of nostalgia and the way things used to be in her life. Having been recently rejected by his high school sweetheart, Jeremy has his own unmet longing. 

The two exchange numbers. 

Beth, brought beautifully to life by Brianna Ratterman Trevithick, is an intriguing woman. In her early 30's, Beth constantly feels as if she's sort of plateaued emotionally and isn't quite sure yet if she wants to become anything resembling a real adult. Thanks to Ratterman Trevithick's finely nuanced performance, I found myself often thinking of Nicole Kidman's turn in To Die For, though Beth + Jeremy & Steve never gets close to that dark. 

In some ways, I wish it had. 

We learn fairly quickly that Jeremy is a 17-year-old, a high schooler devoted to swimming, being a DJ, and not quite being able to let go of the high school sweetheart who has definitely moved on. Friedman, in his cinematic debut, looks like a young Adrien Brody and casts that same sympathetic aura that draws you in and makes you constantly wonder what's really going on with him. 

Unsurprisingly, the relationship between Beth and Jeremy develops and exists somewhere between BFFs and the sort of casual intimacy that many of us long for in life. Steve finds out and that's where Hill takes us on a more suspenseful journey as we're left to wonder exactly how dark this is going to go and how this is all going to play out. 

I'm certainly not going to spoil that surprise. 

Dibiasio offers a compelling performance as Steve, whose own unmet needs and longings are evident but whose volatility leaves us constantly wondering who he is and exactly of what he's capable. He's the kind of guy who would flip you off and then give you a hug. 

Hill isn't hesitant to mess with our expectations here. Beth + Jeremy & Steve avoids our expectations and instead becomes a surprisingly meaningful relationship drama with suspenseful edges and just a hint of paranoia. The film has screened in such fests as SF IndieFest, Chicago Blow-Up Film Fest, Santa Fe Film Festival, and was recently the opening film at Germany's Bremen FilmFest. 

There's never really a moment when you're not aware this is a low-budget indie, though it's the kind of low-budget indie that indie/microcinema fest audiences enjoy and it's the kind of film that has you rushing over to IMDB to learn more about the ensemble. 

Beth + Jeremy & Steve is a thoughtful, intelligent film that avoids easy choices and instead Hill tells a story that feels honest that is brought to life quite nicely by the film's leading trio. This isn't going to be the best film you'll see in 2024, however, it is likely a film you won't quickly forget. Continuing on its indie fest journey and exploring distribution options, Beth + Jeremy & Steve treats its characters with the respect we all long for as we fumble through life making choices that may not make perfect sense but they make perfect sense right now. A promising debut from Daniel M. Hill, Beth + Jeremy & Steve is worth watching for Hill's smart, insightful storytelling and an ensemble of equally promising and up-and-coming performers. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic