Winner of the Audience Award at the Broad Humor Film Festival and the "10 Degrees Hotter Award" at the Valley Film Festival, Odd Brodsky kicked off its increasingly successful festival run with an elusive spot at the 36th annual Mill Valley Film Festival alongside the likes of Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, August: Osage County, and 12 Years a Slave. While you may not have heard the words "Odd Brodsky" muttered during the Academy Awards ceremony that would eventually follow, rest assured that Odd Brodsky deserved its place alongside such noteworthy films.
An obvious labor of love and tremendous affection, Odd Brodsky is a rarity in that it's a rather larger-scale microcinema effort that actually works. Why does it work?
It starts with a script by co-writers and husband/wife team Cindy Baer and Matthew Irving that captures both the hilarity and the humanity of living a life that filled with big dreams and seemingly bigger questions about how to achieve those dreams. Baer and Irving have created relatable characters, whether or not you've ever had Hollywood dreams or simply dreams of a life bigger than you've ever imagined.
Then, it comes down to a cast that obviously "gets it." While many microcinema projects tend to be plagued with uneven performances and wildly inconsistent tones, Odd Brodsky radiates a consistency of vision and tone that makes the film feel like a quirky slice of real life rather than simply another indie project trying hard to be different.
Odd Brodsky's story kicks off with the story of little Audrey (Ilana Klusky), a sort of venus flytrap of quirks who discovers a home among the arts and perseveres with parental encouragement and a can-do attitude that occasionally transcends reality. Little Audrey grows up into a bigger Audrey (Tegan Ashton Cohan), a 24-year-old smalltown girl who decides to follow her dreams to Los Angeles where she subsequently spends the next ten years or so toiling away in a soul-sucking secretarial job that provides stability but not much else.
Of course, it's sometimes when everything else has failed that the universe conspires to make things happen.
From the delightfully unique performance of young Ilana Klusky to Tegan Ashton Cohan's humorous yet warm and appealing turn as Audrey, Odd Brodsky presents us with a rather delightful young woman who is perfect, at least until someone tells her she's not.
Odd Brodsky finds heart, heartbreak, and an abundance of humor in following Audrey's journey toward a dream that she at times seems to not even completely understand herself. While the world around Audrey seems to be laughing at her, Baer and Irving have wisely crafted a story that isn't that lazy. We enjoy Audrey, even if we're not amongst the Hollywood dream chasers, because when it comes down to it she's one of us. Baer and Irving also wisely realize that the best journeys are best traveled with companions, and they wisely place alongside Audrey an assortment of appealing partners including a stoner roommate who insists on being called Spuds (Scotty Dickert) and a cameraman who constantly goes by "Camera One" who helps turn her life into a 24/7 reality show of sorts. Cindy Baer herself is also here as Sammy, a friend who is relentlessly devoted to her own dream of pulling off a horror musical.
While those who've chased the dreams of cinematic or stage stardom will resonate deeply with both the obvious and more "inside" humor and insights of Odd Brodsky, it's truly a film that will cause your entire soul to reverberate if you've ever chased a dream, let go of a dream, had a dream fail, or listened to the "I Have a Dream" speech.
Okay, I made that last one up.
Odd Brodsky also benefits greatly from stellar work by its production team including Irving's lensing. Irving's work may be more familiar to moviegoers from his usual role of cinematographer where he's worked in such projects as Waitress, Waiting, and Redemption Road among others. The film also features terrific original music from composer David Gonzalez, an appealing and memorable production design from Ken Oefelein, and inspired costuming from Chelsey Hemstreet. I'd be remiss not to mention the presence of an original tune from noted singer/songwriter Eric Bazilian, whom most would know from his work with The Hooters.
While Odd Brodsky dances around the stylings of a Wes Anderson-style presentation, it is perhaps less quirky and more emotionally centered than most of Anderson's work. Continuing on its already successful festival run, Odd Brodsky is quirky in the best of ways because the quirk is borne out of characters who make us laugh and who make us feel the truth of their journeys even when their journeys take rather bizarro stops along the way. There are films that make you want to sit down and watch them all over again even before the closing credits have finished rolling and, indeed, Odd Brodsky is such a film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic