BIFF 12 - The Color Wheel - Cinema Review

'Carlen Altman's performance is clearly something of note, the signal that a delightful talent has arrived'

The Color Wheel is an affecting indie with some scripting bile, a standout lead performance and enough overall talent to mark it out as 'one to watch'. The kicker - and individuals will have their own unique tolerance levels to this - is the un-needed inflection of some pretentious direction, most obvious in the film's grainy black & white look. For further evidence, note that the reel 'burns out' at least twice during the course of the movie.

Behind this visage though there is what should be a star-making turn for Carlen Altman, who co-wrote the script with director and co-star Alex Ross Perry. The collaborative nature of the production clearly lets both talents shine when it is appropriate but it is Altman who shines brightest, managing to give the sister of the piece, JR, a level of glamour, sympathy and downright obnoxiousness. Ross Perry could do with reigning her in slightly on occasion (there's one too many examples of her putting on a false voice for humorous effect, for example) but regardless, the performance is clearly something of note, the signal that a delightful talent has arrived.

Presumably, the title refers ironically to the lack of palette in the film's negative, which makes the whole damn procedure even more annoying. Call it Brother & Sister (JR drags Colin (Ross Perry) on a road trip, to collect her stuff from an ex-boyfriend) and shoot the thing in colour, or at least semi-toned sepia, and you've got a less pretentious film which looks better and doesn't have a twee in-joke for a title.

Occasionally too, the script gets too clever for its own good, allowing a great deal of what looks like ad-libbing around your average or garden awkward situations. You can find these in any indie you want these days and they mark Ross Perry's film out as nothing above ordinary. What elevates it again though is Altman's performance and the director's insistence that he wants to make something a little risqué, not stuck in the mire of so many quiet dramas which proceed in a sleepwalk towards an anonymous conclusion, something which Ross Perry actively avoids. A film of some note featuring two talents with remarkable potential.

The 18th Bradford International Film Festival runs from 19th - 29th April at The National Media Museum and several satellite venues in and around Bradford. It includes a European Features competition, the Shine Short Film Award and several major UK premieres and retrospectives.

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