Stars: Jaron Druyon, Jessalyn Carpino, James Hesapis, Clay Johnson and Jennifer Sandoval
|This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in 2015. Here's an index to my reviews of 2015 films.|
The story follows two men. Aaron is a homeless man who has 'been in kind of a bad way' but who is now turned around and looking for a stable future. He's finding it tough, as we see when he cleans himself up in a Co-Op restroom and applies for a job; the manager can't even process his application because of the lack of contact details: no phone, no e-mail, no address. Unfortunately, given that the only thing he owns that doesn't fit in his rucksack is the skateboard he uses to get around and that's destroyed by a car after he hits a rock in a parking lot, he needs more than hope to move forward. Eventually he finds Bert at BLX, a skate shop which he co-owns with Zack, his unseen partner, who thinks up all sorts of rad (or bad) ideas when Bert's not there. The contrast in problems is clear and so is the fact that Aaron clearly can't afford a new board and Bert can't afford to hire him. The key moment is when Aaron leaves BLX without the board he clearly thought of stealing and Bert finds him a replacement for free, hence the title.
Hollar brings in a variety of other details and themes to flesh out the bones of Keel's story, which is brief to the point that it could be described as an anecdote. He establishes Aaron's decency through the street mutt that follows him everywhere; he has nothing but he still feeds the dog. He turns the breaking of the skateboard into an accident rather than an act of karma. He uses jazz as an odd but believable bonding experience for the two men, using a Charlie Parker shirt as the catalyst. And he gives the whole story an ending too, as Aaron can give a little bit back to repay Bert's act of kindness, rather than just change his anger into hope. The film is better for the presence of all these elements, even though they're not part of Keel's original story. Hollar doesn't even really retain the core of the story, which is that kindness trumps anger or positivity beats negativity, instead focusing on the idea that there's always hope, even if it's an unimaginable distance away, which is why I much prefer the film to the story, even if it's not as true.