I never left.
I watched my friends from high school and college leave the relative sanity of life in Indiana aiming for something bigger and better and less sane, but I myself have never even lived outside Indianapolis despite a brief flirtation with law school in Portland, Orego that ended with my ill-fated engagement to the woman of my dreams turned nightmare.
Oh sure, I moved around. But, I never left. Heck, I even moved around colleges - University of Indianapolis, Indiana University, IUPUI, and finally Martin University.
But I stayed.
The Indiana made Everyone I Knew and Loved centers around Erika (Erika Heidewald), a young woman with bigger and better dreams than Indiana can satisfy and so after high school she heads off in search of music stardom in the Los Angeles music scene. Two years later, both dreams and spirit broken, Erika returns to her Bloomington, Indiana home only to discover that life has gone without her - mom is remarried, the boyfriend who was going to wait didn't, and the friends who were going to be friends forever have busied themselves with college.
Everyone I Knew and Loved, I must admit, was rather adorably referred to The Independent Critic by Heidewald, who also serves as the film's screenwriter and producer. Mentioning my love for local film, which is true, and my embrace of such films as Garden State and Liberal Arts, Heidewald thought I might "get" the locally set, non-actor driven, and indie vibe of the ultra-low budgeted Everyone I Knew and Loved.
Filmmakers take note - know where your sending your film. Heidewald was absolutely correct. While any decent film journalist can give an honest and fair review regardless of their faves or personal tendencies, you're never going to get a truly passionate review unless you pay attention to who gets to check out your film.
Now then, Everyone I Knew and Loved is a good film, a sort of Tiny Furniture with Hoosier hospitality tossed into the mix and Heidewald's Erika playing out as a sort of Lena Dunham type, mostly intended as a compliment here despite my own distaste for the Dunham shtick, and the world around her seemingly revolving around her even when it doesn't.
First-time director Andrew Behringer seems to understand the inherent limitations of low-budget filmmaking and never jerks us out of the story by trying to accomplish more than one can accomplish in the world of microcinema. It's a solid first effort and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.
The film was shot primarily in Bloomington with shots in L.A. and Indy noted and carries with it a light hazy aura of comfortable familiarity with sprinkles of longing throughout the film's 100-minute running time. Enveloped by Indiana musicians, the film's original music is vibrant, comfortable and yet feels right at home within the bones of an Indiana college town while the dialogue, much of it improvised, feels quietly authentic in both the unspoken intimacies and casualness of words being spoken between people who've known each other for their entire lives.
Utilizing mostly actors from Heidewald's own family, Everyone I Knew and Loved is filled with those casual conversations that drive an introvert like me absolutely mad, though here they symbolize that safe place to which Erika returns and the kind of world we tend to believe we're going to find elsewhere when we fly the coop but we never really find it again. There are certain scenes that resonate deeply, an almost stunning scene between Erika and Jeanette Heidewald is almost aching and could almost be a Lady Bird outtake, while there are also scenes that leave you going "Okay, nice experiment. But, not quite." Fortunately, there are more of the former than the latter.
Everyone I Knew and Loved, which was just released via Amazon and can be seen for free if you have Amazon Prime, is the kind of low-budget filmmaking that actually benefits from being a low-budget film. It's both an indie project and an Indy project and if you're from the Hoosier state you understand the difference. Centered around a low-key, endearing performance by Heidewald, Everyone I Knew and Loved may not make you long for your Indiana home but it may remind you why it never really left you.
For more information on Everyone I Knew and Loved, visit the film's official Facebook page linked to in the credits and if you're an Amazon Prime member just click on one of The Independent Critic's banners and get on over and watch it for yourself.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic