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The Independent Critic

Patrick J. Adams, Rebecca Mozo, Jade Carter, Matt Stasi, Joey Klein, Wynter Kullman, Jessica Barth
Ely Mennin
Nathan Cole
87 Mins.
Vanguard (DVD)
Audio Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Trailer

 "The Waterhole" Review 
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Miller (Patrick J. Adams) is a soon to be college grad with a failed relationship and an uncertain future. He takes sanctuary in The Waterhole, a neighborhood bar where he meets, vents and commiserates with friends, roommates and college buddies. Miller increasingly chooses his time at the bar over any semblance of dealing with life, his failed relationship or his pending graduation. His two friends, Jim (Jade Murphy) and Murphy (Matt Stasi), are at least taking baby steps towards a future, but Miller is mired in a world of one-night stands and hangovers ... at least until a friend from his past shows up and his world comes crashing down.

Written by Nathan Cole and directed by Ely Mennin, The Waterhole is that rare indie drama that actually works thanks largely to Nathan Cole's smartly written and insightful dialogue and Mennin's ability to maintain a solid pace and set up a decent scene despite the film's modest production budget and the occasionally too dark lighting that detracts from the film's emotional resonance.

The Waterhole has been floating around the festival circuit for a couple years now, having screened at the likes of Newport Beach, Festivus and Hollywood Film Festivals among others before recently being picked up for a DVD release by those fantastic folks at Vanguard Cinema, who should have no problem marketing this winning indie drama.

The cast is comprised of experienced indie actors, and their experience shows often in the film as Cole's dialogue could easily have wandered off into a histrionic, over-dramatized zone but is wisely kept in check here. While Patrick J. Adams is arguably the lead, or at least his story is the glue that holds the film together, The Waterhole is an ensemble piece in virtually every way with everyone carrying their weight. While some of the performances, including Adams's, are a tad hit-and-miss, nobody here is blatantly awful or even distractingly bad. Adams is convincingly conflicted, a young man whose entire world feels more heavy and dramatic than it really is but who can't quite seem to get it going. As his two buddies, Jade Carter and Matt Stasi are generally solid, with Carter having the more emotionally resonant performance while Stasi gets to have a bit more fun with it all.

While his appearance is relatively brief, Joey Klein nearly steals the show as a recovering alcoholic. Klein brings to the screen a rather remarkable intensity, carrying with it a powerful screen presence that is mesmerizing and unforgettable. It's almost certain that we'll be hearing more from Klein in the future.

Not to be outdone, the film's female supporting players do a fine job in what could have easily been rather thankless roles. Rebecca Mozo and Jessica Barth both bring a tremendous depth to their performances, a testament both to their acting chops and Cole's solid character development.

With DVD extras that include an excellent audio commentary, deleted scenes and a trailer, The Waterhole is a great way to catch a quality low-budget indie drama and to support an up-and-coming filmmaker in the process. For more information on The Waterhole, visit the film's website or Vanguard Cinema.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic