Movie Review: Suffering from Amnesia, trying to rebuild the last “32 Weeks”

We pretty much don’t have soap operas to kick around any more. But that favorite trope of drama’s most melodramatic art form remains. Amnesia still pops up in movies, long after most soaps, and movies like “Memento” and “50 First Dates” seemed to exhaust its last possibilities of novelty.

“32 Weeks” is an indie drama about a young woman who went to a party, had a car wreck on the way home, and can’t remember much of anything from the past eight months. And if it doesn’t cover much in the way of new ground, it’s still a smartly-conceived vehicle for drama, melodrama and a couple of decent surprises.

Cole (Nicole Souza of “Against the Night”) remembers giving a violin lesson. After that? Nada. And even before that is foggy, going back months and months.

Luckily her BFF Hannah (Nicole Rainteau) goes back further than that. Summoned to her bedside, the tears transition to jokes before too long. There’s nothing for it but to dive into her Facebook friend’s list, figure out who might jar her memory and who she’d rather forget.

Was she in love? Did she have a bad breakup? Hannah has answers, well some of them. Cole will have to piece that together, bit by bit.

Simon (Scott Bender) is the guy most eager to help out. They hadn’t dated long, and things might have been over, according to Hannah. But he puts himself at her beck and call — taking her to “our favorite restaurant,” the beach, a record store, anything to bring it all back.

“He’s seen you naked,” Hannah jokes. The fellow who hosted the party (KiDane Kelati) the night of her accident can’t make her remember “vodka pong,” and playing “Never have I ever” rattles her.

But Cole’s muscle memory kicks in when she picks up her violin again. Putting Bach on a turntable at the record store gives her flashbacks. Music is her “trigger.”

Producer (“The Last Movie Star,” Burt Reynolds’ swan song) turned writer/director Brian Cavallaro keeps things light during the early acts of this short, if not exactly brisk mystery thriller.

The tug of war over Cole’s memories — What “secret” is she missing? What does she need or want to forget, or desperately need to remember? — plays out with texts, “revisits” to the scene of dates and the like.

Souza is properly confused and assertively curious. She makes us wonder if Cole is going where she dare not go, even as we’re as interested in her past as she is.

“Is it OK if I just don’t remember everything, just make peace with it?” she asks her neurologist.

Cavallaro treats flashbacks, which give away events from Cole’s past, as whiplash-fast montages, each flashback attached to “12 weeks” or however long ago this event happened. They flesh things out, even if most of them don’t add much to the story.

The story doesn’t unfold particularly gracefully, advancing in fits and starts. The “serious” turn for the third act is abrupt, even if we’ve sensed it was coming.

But the picture plays, the amnesia crutch the plot leans on never gives way and the players, especially Souza, keep us invested and interested until the last mystery of those missing “32 Weeks” is revealed.

MPA Rating: unrated, sexual situations, violence

Cast: Nicole Souza, Nicole Rainteau , Scott Bender, Cameron Tagge, KiDane Kelati and Hannah Kleeman

Credits: Scripted and directed by Brian Cavallaro. An Indie Rights release.

Running time: 1:22

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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