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I finally caught up with one of the best indies on the festival circuit: David Spaltro’s Things I Don’t Understand, which has been racking up awards and most recently took best feature at the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado. Spaltro’s follow-up to his acclaimed …Around New York love letter, re-teams with Molly Ryman, who shines as the volatile and vulnerable Violet Kebelick, a brilliant but withdrawn grad student drawn to near-death experiences after a failed suicide attempt. Violet is snarky and self-destructive, but there’s something endearing about this little girl lost.
Violet lives in a Brooklyn loft with two struggling roommates: performance artist Gabby (Meissa Hampton) and musician Remy (Hugo Dillon). Meanwhile, Violet strikes up a friendship with troubled downstairs bartender Parker (Aaron Mathias) and finds spiritual renewal befriending a terminally ill teenager, Sara (Grace Folsom).
Things I Don’t Understand is full grace notes and raw emotional power, superbly acted and sensitively written and directed by Spaltro (who also does a fine job editing). In addition, Gus Sacks’ exquisite cinematography captures the spirit of the passive/aggressive ensemble. Interestingly, Lisa Eichhorn (mesmerizing as the melancholy, boozy Mo from the great Cutter’s Way) appears briefly as Violet’s therapist, providing a calming influence.
I hope Spaltro’s latest film ultimately lands distribution and an appreciative audience. It’s well worth the journey.