“Lonesome” is a danged-near-adorable throwback romance that plays like a love letter to being single and mingling in Milwaukee.
Producer/writer/director Tony K. Hall shot it in black and white — with cotton candy and its effects on the tongue the only splashes of color. He slashes the story down to the barest of essentials and scripts more cutesy inter-titles explaining the stages of a relationship than lines of dialogue.
Obsession!” “Infatuation!” and “The seasons are changing…Weather falls from the memories of warmth and blossoming love.”
“Lonesome” is a screen romance homage to the French New Wave,” only featherweight and cutesy.
Guy (Zach McLain) and Jim (Eric Halverson) are graphic designers and roommates. Jim has a girlfriend (Carolyn Lyons). Guy would like one.
One fine summer’s day, Jim talks Guy into taking a break, ditching social media as a means of “meeting somebody,” and hitting the beach. That’s where he stumbles into Roxy (Amber DeRuyter). She is cute, laughs easily and like Guy, Milwaukee through and through.
“This gin town is fulla cocktail couples!”
They hit it off and spend a day walking and chatting. They chuckle at their shared love of cotton candy (blue tongue vs. pink tongue) and that Wisconsin way of saying “sammiches.”
“D’you work tomorrow?” she wants to know.
“Let’s DRINK,” she suggests.
They meet in the same place, beer and shots. He takes a bathroom break that turns out to be more complicated than quick. She wonders where he’s gone. He returns to find her missing.
And they “didn’t exchange information.”
“Lonesome” is mostly about Guy’s futile efforts to track down somebody he got as far as “doggos” or “cattos” and “picket fence” with, a semi-serious connection. But he never got her last name or her number.
He hunts online to no avail. They just miss each other at a slam poetry evening at a pub, or at the street fair. Every so often, she breaks into song, a cappella.
“Lonesome” manages to be a movie long on charm and short on most everything else. The leads are pleasant “real people” and summery Milwaukee is shown off as a real city with a 30-and-under revived downtown, complete with “The Hop,” their Potawatomi light rail system.
But this movie’s shortcomings are kind of obvious, too.
It’s listed on IMDb as running 1:23. But its release length is 1:05. That’s not long enough for anybody to release it to theaters and might even discourage most streamers (Random Media has it VOD/Amazon).
The black and white gimmick is great for standing out from the crowd. One of my favorite romances ever was the 2007 indie “In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” which had edge, poignance and the underbelly of LA flipped onto its romantic head.
Here, the constant intertitles are cloying, the story is too limited to amount to much more than the basic “I hope they find each other.” I heartily endorse movies that escape from LA and feature players that aren’t dividing their time between “acting” and “modeling.” Not everybody in the world looks like a gym rat. Why should people in the movies be different?
That said, our leads are almost pleasant to spend time with, but no one anybody would chat up at a cocktail party. The dialogue, what little there is of it, doesn’t reveal anything that makes either person interesting.
And then there’s the title of “Lonesome,” utterly generic and over-used since the silent cinema era. How is anybody going to find this?
Here’s how I tracked down the photos. Dogpile or Google “Lonesome” and “Movie” and “Milwaukee.”
I liked what I saw, I just needed to see more. This is a somewhat polished “student” level indie that runs a tad long, not a feature that invites us to wholly invest in the thinly-sketched in characters.
It does make one want to Potawatomi one’s way to Milwaukee, though. Maybe wait a few months — six or so — before doing it.
Rating: unrated, squeaky clean
Cast: Amber DeRuyter, Zach McLain, Eric Halverson, Carolyn Lyons and Alexandra Peseri
Credits: Scripted and directed by Tony K. Hall. A Random Media release.
Running time: 1:05