Subtle and uplifting, director and co-writer Stephen Suettinger has crafted a delicious film that studies the changes our protagonist makes, throughout the course of a year, in the wonderfully indie A Year and Change.
The film begins in a hospital emergency room on New Years Eve where Owen (Bryan Greenberg) waits for treatment on his recently broken arm, while his voiceover narrates his thoughts to a girl named Jen. Owen has seemingly floated through the past few years of his life, fuelled by alcohol, divorce, toxic relationships and the death of his parents, he has become disengaged with the world and it seems his son and remaining family have fallen by the wayside.
After he drunkenly falls off the roof of his friend’s house and has his broken arm set in a cast, he decides it’s time to mend his broken life. He quits drinking, reaches out to his son and finds a complicated love with a girl named Vera (Claire van der Boom) a fellow divorcee who is also at a loss after an abusive marriage.
One must admire the metaphor of the long and agonizing healing of a broken bone paralleling Owen’s life changes as he seeks to become a better man, but inevitably faces many predicaments and complications along the way.
The Indie clichés are out in force; young boy sat on a curb waiting for his distant father to take him to baseball practice, neighbours with depressing problems, life being at a crossroads, the cynic in me would say it’s all been done before, but darn it I lapped them up anyway. The oh-so clearly impending emotional sucker punch would also make me shed a deplorable tear or two.
Bryan Greenberg plays the part of Owen with just the right amount of nuance to make him seem almost robotic, like he’s been on autopilot for a few years, but is clearly holding something deep down inside himself. Claire van der Boom plays a welcome contrast, confident, with a trace of vulnerability and enough spirit to help Owen along his transitional journey.
Suettinger deals with the films themes in a compassionate and humane manner. As Owen deals with the complex notion of change, he learns to realize there are people that rely on him, and just how much he has missed out on over the years.
While most male centric films use comedy and violence to engage their audience, A Year and Change carries us on a gentle ride that never feels too slow or unwelcome.
4 / 5
Dir: Stephen Suettinger
Scr: Jim Beggarly, Stephen Suettinger
Starring: Bryan Greenberg, Claire van der Boom, T.R. Knight, Marshall Allman
Prd: Stephen Suettinger, Emily Ting
DOP: Michael Patrick O’Leary
Music: Jeff Toyne
Run time: 93 mins
A Year and Change is in cinemas in North America now. A UK release date is to be confirmed.