Back when I was working in the New York theater scene, a certain type of play became the
Holy Grail, as it were. It usually involved one set and no more than four characters. Why? Well,
because it would be cost-effective. At that time in the late 1980s, production costs were just beginning
to rise and plays were beginning to cost around $1 million to produce. Nowadays, that barely gets you
an advertising budget.
Of course, motion pictures have been dealing with the same problems for years. With the advent
of digital video, though, it has become cheaper to shoot a movie – and in some ways, any fool with a
camera can churn something out – quality be damned.
Well, writer-director John G. Young does have talent and he has crafted a four-character drama
set in one location that was shot over an eight-day period for $5000. The result is THE RECEPTION,
which starts off a bit slowly but gradually turns into a fascinating if not wholly successful feature.
It takes a while for the story to kick in and you must be patient as the exposition flows. Jeannette
(Pamela Holden Stewart) is a French woman living in upstate New York with her companion, the gay
African-American artist Martin (Wayne Lamont Sims). They have a symbiotic relationship and there
appears to be genuine affection between them, but something is also awry. Jeannette tends to drink too
much and when she does, she lashes out at the only person nearby – Martin. For whatever reason, he
tolerates her outbursts, retreating to his studio for refuge.
Their world is upended when Jeannette’s estranged daughter Sierra (Margaret Burkwit) arrives
with a surprise guest – her new husband Andrew (Darien Sills-Evan). Sierra is due to receive an
inheritance following her marriage, so she’s there to arrange collection. Jeannette wants to use the
opportunity to repair some of the damage to their relationship as well to throw the newlyweds a party.
Of course, there are secrets abounding and the gradual reveals are what constitute most of the drama.
For an extremely low-budget film, THE RECEPTION has its moments. I did find it very shaky at
the start and, for me, it took a bit too long to get all the plot wheels in motion, but once they started
turning, things became interesting. The actors all do yeoman work but one part of the ending didn’t
exactly ring true to me. Still, there are some things about the film to lend interest and some may find
it worth a look.
MPAA rating: NONE
Running time: 80 mins.
Viewed at the Magno Review Two
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.