The word "promising" is thrown around easily when it comes to up-and-coming filmmakers like Break Glass writer/director Jay Leonard, though it's absolutely true with this occasionally melancholy, often lightly comical story about Ryan Nichols (Ricky DeRosa), a young man currently living in his childhood bedroom while his ex-wife (Meggy Hai Trang) is six days away from her wedding.
Ryan, in turn, is seven days away from his planned death by suicide.
Not so patiently waiting, Ryan is just sort of hanging out until his brother, Trevor (Jeff Raiano), is summoned home and subsequently introduces him to a self-help cult and convinces him to head out on a road trip to repair the mistakes of his past and, maybe just maybe, his future.
That is until Sarah (Suzanna Bornn), a ghost from his past, unexpectedly pops up with other plans.
The word "promising," again, is all over Break Glass, a good film that you can't help but wish would have been just a wee bit better with such an engaging trio as Ryan, Trevor, and Sarah. While the story that surrounds them occasionally falters, I'd watch Break Glass all over again just to watch these three and their earnest, heartfelt interactions.
For the most part, Leonard follows the typical road movie template. As an indie-focused critic, I've seen similar stories a zillion times. However, DeRosa, Bornn, and Raiano are all delightful in weaving together a tapestry of deeply felt humor and honesty and inherently likable people. They may not always like each other, but we seem to always at least relate to them in a pretty profound way.
There are moments in Break Glass that are genuinely immersive and involving. It's pretty clear that this ensemble understands what Leonard is going for here and they're all on the same page. While Break Glass isn't going to be confused for Academy Award level cinema, this is the kind of independent, low-budget film that indie/microcinema fest audiences love with an engaging story, talented leads, and consistently competent filmmaking.
DeRosa makes for a sort of "everyman" type of lead, the kind of relatable ordinary joe whose dilemmas feel real and who just sort of tugs at your heartstrings. We all have a friend like DeRosa and we always root for them.
In terms of emotional resonance, Suzanna Bornn is the film's highlight with a much wider narrative arc than you initially realize. Bornn delivers it all beautifully and has a marvelous chemistry with DeRosa.
Then, there's Raiano. Raiano is the film's comic life force with a winning charisma and a natural spirit that comes to life here. Everything lights up when the camera's on Raiano.
As is nearly always true of low-budget indies, the supporting players are a little more hit-and-miss. I could have easily done without the extended P3 self-help storyline that never really convinces and often mutes the film's energy and pacing.
Original music by Derik Healy is effective throughout and Justin Wambach's lensing for the film is relaxed, observational and yet a wonderful companion for the film.
I've long worked to convince folks that you can make truly meaningful indie cinema on an ultra-low budget. Filmed on an estimated $1,800 budget, Break Glass is definite proof that with the right story, right cast, and a talented crew you can accomplish quite a bit with very little. Continuing on its indie fest journey, Break Glass is worth a view if you get the chance.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic