People in Kilnerry, N.H. are acting a little weird. Challenging priests to boxing matches. Throwing “swingers” parties. Going for nude bicycle rides.
There must be something in the water, right?
Well, actually, yes.
In the new comedy Love in Kilnerry, there really is something in the water, a chemical that does away with people’s inhibitions, encouraging them to let go of their bottled-up desires. And it has hit the folks in this tiny, uptight New England town hard.
Because they like it.
Love in Kilnerry was actor Daniel Keith’s idea. He wrote it as a play, then turned it into a screenplay. He shot it, acting as both director and star. And now he’s distributing it himself, as it rolls out in theaters across to America, and gets ready for streaming.
And the shock is – it’s a nice little film.
It’s a shock because too often one-person shows like this end badly; first-time directors who also decide they’re going to star in their debuts aren’t just asking for trouble, but disasters. But Keith is a veteran actor who is consistently appealing as the small town’s strait-laced sheriff. And spending years in front of the camera seems to have given him a good sense of what should be going on behind it.
Not that the film is perfect. In fact, it has more than its share of flaws. Although the original songs on the soundtrack are fun, the orchestral score is overbearing. Some of the jokes don’t work, and the ending is a while in coming. And the large cast – mostly made up of folks from the New York theater scene– is erratic, with some of them still loudly playing to that back row in the upper mezzanine.
But Keith is pleasant, and he has good support from Tony Triano, who brings an old-time character actor’s energy to the role of the mayor, and Roger Hendricks Simon, who is delightful as Keith’s suddenly lively dad. The production values throughout are top-notch, and the New Hampshire scenery fills the screen with craggy mountains, open water and a delightful downtown you just want to amble through.
Sometimes the film itself ambles a little too much, taking things too easy — not pushing a funny situation hard enough, or letting an overdone performance slip through. It’d probably work better if you had a glass or two of the town’s tainted water yourself, first – or at least a few glasses of wine. But still Love in Kilnerry remains, not to damn with faint praise, a nice little film.
And it leaves you with the strong hope that its director soon makes another.
Comment (1) on "Love in Kilnerry"
The trailer and promotions for “Love in Kilnerry” definitely give off an alt-diy-film vibe, so it’s good to hear the film has easy merit.
Every time I see a film or a series like this I have a greater appreciation for Bill Forsyth’s miraculous “Local Hero” (which bring also to mind, “Whiskey Galore” (the ’49 original) and “I Know Where I’m Going” (Powell/Pressburger).
‘Small town life’ is an appealing premise, but hard to carry off convincingly without condescending. The temptation is to caricaturize the locals so that they’re either oafish buffoons or pixies, rather than real people with personality. If a film or show is to work, the locals have to become a real part of the story rather than a backdrop. The silly thing is that some films go to great lengths to find and shoot a beautiful, rustically charming place, but then lacks all conviction that living there would be worthwhile, either by faking it or plotting an escape therefrom. David Mamet’s “State & Main” played around with these things, where the visiting film crew treated the burg like it was a prefab soundstage and the local extras, but that film was disappointingly flat. Mamet tried to evade the inability of Hollywood to really get ‘small town life’ by making it a satirical plot point, but ultimately it was like pointing his finger directly in the mirror.
From this review, it looks like “Love in Kilnerry” is more directly about living in Kilnerry than some sort of drive-by affectionate glimpse, and though the plot skirts the idea that to remain sentient in a small town, it helps to be continually dosed, it is more than that.
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