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The Independent Critic

Todd Giglio, Christopher Springer, Pooja Kumar, Brennan Giglio
Todd Giglio
Todd Giglio, Christopher Springer
82 Mins.

 "Drawing With Chalk" Review 
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"Sometimes your life is drawn out for you."

Taking a page out of their own life, "Drawing With Chalk" co-writers and co-stars Todd Giglio, who also directs, and Christopher Springer are Jay and Matt, two fortysomething longtime friends struggling with that aching choice between continuing to chase a lifelong dream and honoring the responsibilities that inevitably seem to develop along the way.

The two are longtime friends who spent their young adult years chasing rock n' roll fame in New York, a fame that always eluded them as seemingly less talented bands would rise to the top. A few years later, the two find themselves working union factory jobs in a small New York town, Jay is now married to Jasmin (Pooja Kumar) with a son, Bryan (Brennan Giglio). Matt, on the other hand, has seemingly succumbed to his insecurities and depression and his fear that the only dream he's ever had is out of reach.

As the two hit forty, they decide to give music one more shot. Sometimes, however, your life is drawn out for you and all that's left is to decide "Should I stay or Should I go?"

Much like their alter egos Jay and Matt, Todd Giglio and Christopher Springer were nearing forty when the two decided to make one last grand effort at the cinematic success that had largely eluded them in their younger years.

"Drawing With Chalk" is the culmination of Giglio and Springer's mid-life efforts and, indeed, a grand effort it is for all involved.

While it is likely that the story behind "Drawing with Chalk" would be captivating and the film itself involving standing on its own, the simple truth is that "Drawing with Chalk" feels like a heart project and that passion radiates throughout the entire film.

Of course, it does help that this heartfelt, passionate project is also a beautifully constructed, written and acted film.

As the two leads, Giglio and Springer are a delight as two friends whose live are, at least to a certain degree, going different directions even as they continue to share the central dream of music. Giglio's Jay is easily the more responsible of the two, and Giglio nicely blends the contrasts between what he feels when creating music with Matt and, as well, the joy he finds in being both husband to Jasmin and father to Brennan. While it seems inevitable that Jay's increasing devotion to music at the expense of his family time will lead to conflict, Giglio and Springer wisely avoid demonizing either side in the conflict. Instead, this is simply a conflict in which two people who do really love one another will find a way to resolve it.

While Matt is not challenged by a family life, he too is challenged by his changing world and expectations. Springer's Matt shows hints of being a man-child, yet he is a man-child whose energy and zest for hopes and dreams have been worn down over time. Over the course of "Drawing with Chalk," Matt begins to look weathered as he struggles to put together a puzzle without ever completely trusting that he even has all the pieces.

A rarity among ultra-low budget films, "Dancing with Chalk" is gifted by a solid supporting cast including the absolutely delightful Pooja Kumar as Jay's wife Jasmin and a heartfelt appearance by Giglio's own son Brennan, as his onscreen son Bryan. Only one scene in "Dancing with Chalk" feels a touch off, an important final confrontation scene between Jay and Jasmin that doesn't quite reach the level authenticity found throughout the rest of the film.

Michael LaVoie's camera work nicely frames the tender, human moments in "Dancing with Chalk," while Giglio's own original score serves as a stellar complement to the film's subtle emotional tones. Tech credits are a definite notch above what one usual finds in ultra-low budget indies and are solid throughout.

Currently on the film festival circuit, "Drawing with Chalk" is certainly affirmation that it's never too late to go after one's dream. Sometimes, your life is drawn out for you, indeed, but sometimes you can also still color outside the lines.

For more information on "Drawing with Chalk," visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic