By now, it should be fairly obvious that I'm developing quite the working relationship with Echelon Studios and Singa Home Entertainment.
A growing source of DVD distribution for the independent filmmaker, Singa is proving to be quite adept at identifying quality indie filmmakers who, for a variety of reasons, have had a hard time finding distribution for their films.
"Only for You," written and directed by Donna Persico, is the latest Singa-distributed film to fall into my radar. An obviously gifted director who captured Portland's 48-Hour Film Festival in 2005, the 2003 "Only for You" was Persico's first full-length feature and has the look and feel of a first-time director who hasn't quite learned to trust her instincts yet despite an obvious eye for visual presentation.
Set in the 1990's, "Only for You" is the story of Dana (Shea Curry, "Princess Diaries 2") and Jack (Michael Buie, "Mystery, Alaska"). Dana is a recently divorced woman embarking on an acting career, while Jack is a rookie sports writer at a local newspaper while also acting in local theatre and maintaining an unsatisfying relationship with his girlfriend.
What follows is, essentially, a series of what ifs, what might be, what should be, what could be and what may eventually be scenarios.
It's difficult to peg exactly what went wrong in "Only for You." Michael Buie is convincing as Jack, and Shea Curry gives an emotionally resonant performance as Dana. Likewise, Ellis Williams ("Jackie Brown") does a nice job as one of Jack's co-workers and confidantes while Kate Albrecht (HBO's "Entourage") particularly shines as Dana's best friend.
The problem, I fear, may lie in Persico's hesitant directing. On multiple occasions, I found myself thinking "This is where we're going to break through," only to watch the scene slow down or suddenly become emotionally distant.
While Persico has an obvious visual flair, the best framed shot only means something if it remains faithful to the storyline or characters. Too often, shots felt "framed" rather than faithful to the story.
The end result was that, on more than one occasion, scenes in which the words felt heavy felt distant and detached.
The film's tech credits were budget appropriate for a film shot on an estimated $18,000 budget, with DP Phillip Pratt lensing the film quite nicely and Travis Nicholas Zariwny's production design giving "Only for You" a natural, relaxed feel.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic