Ian Foliver (Adrian DiGiovanni) is a depressed man. He's not just a little depressed, but massively depressed. He's the kind of depressed that causes you to isolate and allow the world to happen around you.
I can't deny that Motivational Growth, in some twisted way, reminded me of Jennifer Aniston's Oscar bait performance in the film Cake, a much more straightforward and dramatically targeted film in which Aniston plays a chronic pain sufferer. It's a good performance in a film that feels like a film.
Motivational Growth is a film. I suppose one can't deny that it feels like a film, but in a vastly different way. It's quirkier, at times simply for the sake of being quirky. It's definitely funnier. It's also incredibly gross at times.
Yet, there's something about Motivational Growth that feels richer and feels more authentic. It helps that the film starts off with a good 15-20 minutes of us getting to know Ian, his depression, his thoughts, his feelings, and exactly how intensely depressed he's really become. On the day that we meet Ian, he has decided to commit suicide and has concocted a plan to do so.
As one might expect, it doesn't work.
Instead, Ian awakens to a rather major case of mold that has taken over his apartment, an apartment that was already dirty and grimy and pretty darn disgusting. "The Mold," as we come to know it, is given voice by Jeffrey Combs and is, at least as far as Ian is concerned, a living and breathing thing that ultimately talks with Ian about "the plan," a one-week effort to change Ian's life if he'll commmit to it.
So, he does.
Ian begins to follow the explicit instructions being given by The Mold, instructions ranging from the personal to the decorative to the architectural to quite a bit more. Over time, Ian's encounters with The Mold lead to an even greater detachment from reality and hallucinations. Before long, it becomes apparent that this motivational growth Ian is said to experience may very well be something else.
Motivational Growth is one of the more unique films you will likely see, at least one of the more unique films you will likely see that you actually do want to see. While it begins to lose its steam after running a good 15 minutes or so too long, Motivational Growth is inventive, fun, dramatically impactful, and quite well acted with DiGiovanni's opening scenes an absolute delight of drama and vulnerability and humor and his later scenes ranging from absurd to funny to emotionally resonant and much more. Jeffrey Combs' vocal work as The Mold is effective and seductive in an influential sort of way.
The film screened at Toronto After Dark and picked up some awards along its festival route including Best Narrative Feature at Seattle's True Independent Film Festival, Best Comedy Film at Louisville's Fright Night Film Fest, and Best Feature Film at Boston's Science Fiction Film Festival.
With distribution deals in place, Motivational Growth is now available through Blu-Ray/DVD/VOD channels and is definitely worth your time for fans of indie sci-fi/fantasy.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic