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The Independent Critic

Jay Masonek, Jeffrey Leiser, Eric Leiser, Linda Darnall, Patricia Darnall, Homer Darnall
Eric Leiser
82 Mins.

 "Glitch in the Grid" Review 
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The third feature film and second film to utilize both live-action and stop-motion animation from director Eric Leiser, Glitch in the Grid continues Leiser's at times abstract and at times jarringly concrete explorations of what it means to live as spiritual beings in a world so seemingly devoid of divine connection.

Jay (Jay Masonek) is feeling down and out. A talented artist, Jay has seldom left his small Northern California town. One day, Jay's cousins Jeff (Jeffrey Leiser) and Eric (Eric Leiser) visit from Los Angeles. Artists themselves, they offer Jay the chance to come hang with them for a period of time in Hollywood while taking him to film castings and around to experience the city. However, we're in the midst of an economic recession and jobs are scarce and, before long, Jay begins to feel a sense of spiritual oppression from what he describes as "the grid." In desperation, Jay reaches out to God. In the form of a dove, God reaches out to Jay and leads him toward hope and renewal. When Jay returns to his hometown, he finds a "green job" working in the California redwood forest while Eric and Jeff pursue relationships in New York and England. The three are brought together again by Eric's wedding and Jay, while still feeling alone, has a powerful experience that leads to his making the biggest decision of his life.

Leiser describes himself as a filmmaker interested in filmmaking as a process capable of spiritual renewal, and Glitch in the Grid looks and feels like a film that serves as the visual expression of a spiritual journey. There are times, quite a few times, when Glitch in the Grid feels self-indulgent yet to have made the film in any other way would have been less than authentic. These three characters are, for the most part, playing themselves and it's this spiritual intimacy that provides the film much of its cinematic spark. The film's leading trio seems to struggle with how to maintain any sense of connection in a society that discourages connection, whether it be because of socio-economic stressors or institutional oppression.

Likely to be consider an experimental film by most who view it, Glitch in the Grid incorporates a wide variety of visuals, sounds, movements and music to communicate Leiser's intended sense of magical realism. The film at times plays out equally as documentary, mumblecore, Van Sant introspective and animated expose.

D.P. Rory Owen Delaney lenses the film with a sublime mixture of realism and mysticism that infuses the film with the sort of unsettled feelings that these characters are undoubtedly experiencing. Jeffrey Leiser's original music complements Delaney's mystical lensing with sounds that give the film an aura of spirituality even in its most mundane moments.

The acting ensemble in Glitch in the Grid has definitely improved a notch since Leiser's last film Imagination, but given the film's fierce devotion to realism it at times feels like they're not acting at all. There is, at times, a grimness in Glitch in the Grid yet, in the end, we return to Leiser's fundamental faith that God is more powerful than "the grid" itself.

For more information on Glitch in the Grid, visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic