FILM RATING: 3 stars
Every now and then I come across a gem of a movie by pure accident. I was just searching through the schedule for Showtime on TV earlier this week and ran across this movie. I read the short synopsis and decided to record it. After watching it tonight, I’m surprised at how good the film was. Leaving Barstow (2008) is an indie written by young actor Kevin Sheridan and directed by actor Peter Paige. I think what’s so appealing about this movie is how low key the production is. It looks and feels like everyday life in a small crappy town like Barstow. But the movie is very well written, acted and photographed. So while it may look like a low budget indie, it doesn’t have the often times lame story and acting of a low budget movie.
The story is simply about this 18-year old guy named Andrew who is finishing high school in a dead end town. He’s living with his widowed mother Sandra, who’s dating a 22-year old country-rock singer named Cody. There’s obviously some tension between Andrew and Cody since Cody is only a few years older than Andrew and he’s sleeping with Andrew’s mother…on the other side of Andrew’s bedroom wall. But the real story here is Andrew figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Does he stay in this nowhere town and keep his lonely mother company? Or does he leave for college and start a new life for himself?
Actor Steven Culp, who I absolutely loved in Thirteen Days (2000), plays one of Andrew’s high school teachers. It’s a small supporting role, but he packs a punch with his few minutes on screen. This film was obviously overlooked and poorly distributed when it came out two years ago. But I’m certainly glad to have discovered it on Showtime this week. If you like character-driven dramas, then check this film out on Showtime or DVD. I think we can all relate to the characters in this movie from some period in our lives. The photography was well done, with some cool compositions…even though there seemed to be a lot of “ass” shots and blurry montages. I give the film 3 out of 5 stars. It’s a good late night flick.