If you've ever watched a Linda Palmer motion picture, then you've likely already caught on to the fact that Palmer is at her best in the world of ensemble storytelling.
Turnover features Palmer at her very best.
The first few moments of Turnover are precisely the film you don't want it to be.
Hang in there. It's by design.
The uncomfortable world in which Turnover begins reflects the uncomfortable world in which cafe owner Peter (Paul Guilfoyle, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) finds himself with a business that is struggling, a marriage that is failing, and a heart that could give out at any moment.
It's a world that aches and we feel that ache in every moment.
When Peter finally takes a desperately needed medical sabbatical to deal with it all, his long disgrunted manager, Henry (Riker Lynch, Glee), takes the opportunity to hire a new crew of what he calls "rejects" in an effort to sabotage Peter's franchising plans. Returning home to a crew of misfits he doesn't recognize and doesn't particularly care for, Peter initially prepares for the world around him to collapse before, over time, Peter begins to realize that a new world around him has only begun to be born.
As a filmmaker and storyteller, Palmer has always traveled familiar journeys. She prefers simple storytelling about people learning how to be people with and without each other. From her Michael Gross-led short film Our Father's centered around late-stage dementia to the life-changing dramas tackled in such films as Sienna's Choice and My Name is Lamar and several of her other films, Palmer has embraced a style of filmmaking and storytelling that is largely devoid of flash and brash in favor of simplicity and authentic humanity.
Turnover is yet another such a film and it may very well be her best film yet, so rich is its humor and humanity and heart that you'll find yourself immersed within its story and laughing and loving and, I'd dare say, even perhaps crying a little bit along the way. Turnover is an honest film, never denying the struggles of everyday life but also unabashedly sentimental and heartfelt in its belief that when we surround ourselves with an eclectic community that loves us "as is" it's all going to turn out alright whatever that "alright" turns out to be.
Quite simply, I loved this film.
Paul Guilfoyle travels a remarkable distance as Peter, yet manages to never strike a false note. It's an understated performance, yet there's a complete and utter sincerity to it all that makes you absolutely fall in love with the guy along the way.
On the flip side, from his opening moments on the big screen you're well aware that Riker Lynch's Henry is up to no good. While Palmer seldom, if ever, paints a character in black-and-white, Lynch's Henry is unquestionably on the Draco Malfoy end of the character spectrum and you can't help but enjoy watching as he gets his just desserts and as his sabotaging efforts don't go quite as expected.
There are others along the way who completely shine. The misfits? Carlos Carrasco is an absolute joy as Miguel, an ex-con whose ex-con vibe is never exploited but instead used to challenge those of us watching the film and our stereotypes. Julia Silverman (General Hospital, Gilmore Girls) is a rock star as Gladys, who seems set up to fail after being hired as a head server despite being out of the workforce for 40 years and a "little old lady" vibe that doesn't begin to describe her at all. Adwin Brown (television's Heathers) shines as new manager William, who replaces Henry and quietly begins to turn these "rejects" into glorious misfits. Isabella Blake-Thomas takes the role of Pepper and turns a potential one-note player into someone you just kind fo want to hug by film's end. Elina Madison, a veteran of both Palmer projects and a number of indie horror films, is a complete and utter wonder as Charlotte.
The list goes on and on.
There's both Blair Williamson and Jamie Brewer (American Horror Story), both actors with Down Syndrome whose characters are simply, well, characters. There's at least one other actor with a disability in the film, a young actress who appears to be deaf appearing in a scene in which Blake-Thomas's Pepper actively uses ASL.
It's difficult to describe the world that Palmer creates here, though it's a world where special doesn't describe needs but describes people. At its core, Turnover is a film about the people who comprise our families and families of choice and how all of us are pretty amazing.
Peter's life truly does fall apart, an inevitability that is true to the story that Palmer has created here, though I'll leave the details as to how that all unfolds to your own viewing of the film. The real power of Turnover is what happens when Peter's world crumbles - it's these remarkable misfits who show up in ways big and small to help Peter move into a healthier way of living and loving.
Seriously, folks. If you don't love this film, there's something wrong with you.
Among the other supporting players, Kat Kramer is deliciously smarmy as Fran while brief but essential appearances by the likes of Donna Mills, Beverly Todd, and Ellen Gerstein give the film an extra dash of life and love and more than a little dollop of humor.
Lensing by Jennifer Hook is stylishly simple and emphatically human, while the original music by Nami Melumad and Natalia Perez is warm and comforting. Scott Simerly Jr.'s editing work here allows for the wonder of silence and for body language to mean as much as the spoken word. The entire production team deserves kudos including, of course, script co-writer Laree D. Griffith.
Turnover is set for its world premiere at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema going on from March 5-10th, 2019 in lovely Idyllwild, California where the film has 14 award nominations and should have no problem taking a handful of awards home.
While I've long been a fan of Linda Palmer's work, Turnover hits a new high and is the kind of film that serves notice for those who've yet to discover the filmmaker. With heart and humor, honesty and remarkable compassion, Turnover is the kind of film you want the world to discover and it's the kind of film where you write down the names of all the cast members and pledge to watch their careers grow forever and ever.
Turnover, which is both a wonderful film and practically begs to be a television series, tells a story you'll want to hear over and over again with characters that you'll absolutely love with all their glorious quirks and divine imperfections. When you get your chance, and I'm confident this film is going places, you'll want to check out Turnover for yourself.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic