Posted in: Review

Paint

Writers need to be read. Musicians need to be heard.

But after three years of painting, Dan, Kelsey and Quinn haven’t hung a picture on anybody’s walls but their own. Are you still a painter if nobody sees your paintings? Is selling out worse than not selling at all?

Paint asks those questions, and lets its audience answer.

A portrait of the artist as a young failure, filmmaker Michael Walker’s engaging indie follows three New York twenty-somethings as they try to figure out how to get what they want. But first, maybe it’s time to finally figure out why they are.

Dan, still comfortably subsidized by his rich parents, wonders if he needs to do something edgy, like take hard drugs, or push some weird sexual boundaries. Kelsey, tired of seeing prettier rivals vault ahead of her, wonders if it’s all about sex.

Meanwhile stubborn Quinn refuses to compromise his vision, or his approach. At all. Which may be why he’s broke and underfed and living in someone’s closet.

Walker, who sold his first feature, Chasing Sleep, more than 20 years ago — and has had a lot of gaps in his movie career since – probably identifies most with the principled if impractical Quinn, played by Paul Cooper.

But Walker’s a smart enough writer to make him Quinn a bit of a pain in the neck. And to give most of the script’s best lines, and genuine sympathy, to his other characters.

Like Dan, the slightly ridiculous rich kid, played by Josh Caras, who loathes his father even while he lets him pay for his loft. And hungry, uncertain, vulnerable, determined Kelsey, whom an appealingly awkward Olivia Luccardi gives real, warm, honest life.

They’re all full characters, and as other are introduced – an overnight success, a duplicitous dealer, a lonely wife – they collide and connect in interesting ways as the plot itself deepens and divides (until a somewhat predictable ending).

Helping things along is a veteran filmmaker’s command of his resources – the opening credits are fun, the soundtrack is stuffed full of smart musical choices, and the locations are all authentic and interesting. It’s a movie made by someone who knows what he’s doing, while still appreciating how hard it can be to even get that chance.

Paint began several years ago as a half-hour short, sort of a sketch for a full movie. But since then, Walker has turned it into a full, three-dimensional sculpture. It’s lively, it’s fun, and like its heroes’ work, it definitely deserves to be seen.

4 stars (out of 5)