Despite my best efforts, it seems like every single year I end up having a few films at Indy's Heartland International Film Festival that simply pass me by. It's understandable, of course, given the practical impossibility of screening every film at a festival that screens well over 100 of them.
However, it bums me out.
Such is the case with writer/director Aimee Graham's low-key winner The Allnighter, a film that recently wrapped up its indie fest run and landed with Indie Rights for distribution. It's currently available on Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, and Google Play. One can only hope the film finds the audience it deserves.
The Allnighter stars Owen Beckman as Terence, an astrophysics student working toward his PhD when a tragedy of sorts strikes - his groundbreaking work is stolen in an auto theft. An unexpected encounter leads him to make a deal with a woman in a pawn shop, Belle (Gretchen Lodge), in order to get his work back.
Trust me, it makes sense. Seeking herself to resolve issues from the past with her family, Belle drags Terence to the desert where the two play integral roles in healing old wounds.
By now, you're likely thinking to yourself "Oh great, another mismatched buddy road flick!"
Hang in there. While the journey is certainly important here, there's an awful lot more going on in The Allnighter. In fact, one of the things that makes The Allnighter so engaging is that Graham infuses the 79-minute film with hints of romance, a little anxiety-inducing tension, and more. Our two lead characters are complex individuals, neither completely likable nor ever someone we turn away from. They intrigue precisely because they're not entirely predictable. It's absolutely a lot of fun to watch, a combination of both the calm and the chaos within the storm.
A debut feature for Graham, The Allnighter possesses a lovely pace that never feels rushed or overly still. Graham's confident vision radiates throughout the film and she's gifted with a tremendous pairing in Beckman and Lodge. Beckman's Terence is perhaps the calmer and more relatable of the two, though Beckman does a nice job of peeling away Terence's layers and letting us see what's bubbling underneath. Lodge, on the flip side, seems more externally based yet over the course of the film reveals quite a bit more internally. Together, they're quite wonderful.
The Allnighter features some familiar faces in supporting and cameo roles. Refreshingly, these roles have meaning beyond simply casting a name. Folks like Tiny Lister, James Russo, and Justine Bateman are a welcome presence. Oh, and has there ever been a time when David Koechner didn't make a film better?
Music by Max Loh is effective throughout and Marcin Banasiak's lensing for the film possesses its own natural rhythm and works beautifully.
While I regret having missed this award-winning film at Heartland, I'm excited to see it land with the fantastic team at Indie Rights. This is a truly impressive debut for Graham and it will be a joy to watch her work in the future.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic