Tag Archives: Colin West

Fly Me to the Moon

Linoleum

by Hope Madden

If you haven’t gotten to know filmmaker Colin West, it’s high time you correct that. The writer/director follows up last year’s surreal Christmas haunting Double Walker with a beautiful look at living a fantastic life.

The effortlessly affable Jim Gaffigan plays Cameron, an astronomer in suburban Dayton, Ohio hitting a very rocky path in his middle age. The kiddie show about science that he hosts is failing. Maybe his marriage is, too. New neighbors, a mysterious woman, and increasingly bizarre events have got him wondering. What does it all mean?

West, expanding his award-winning 2018 short Here & Beyond, writes a meticulous script that folds in on itself in fascinating ways, keeping you guessing and engaged.

Gaffigan is a far more nuanced actor than you might realize. While his dual roles appear at first to provide comedic opportunities, both Gaffigan and West have more up their sleeves than that.

Gaffigan’s performances and West’s approach are primarily earnest, and it’s that simple grounding that allows the absurd flourishes in the film to take flight without cynicism or irony. The supporting cast, including a wonderful Katelyn Nacon, and Rhea Seehorn, Amy Hargreaves, Tony Shalhoub and Gabriel Rush, surrounds Gaffigan’s turn with sincere, often tender but simultaneously comical performances.

West and cinematographer Ed Wu give the environment a nostalgic, lovely, tactile quality that allows it to feel lost in time. All of these elements — the performances, nostalgia, absurd moments and kitchy aesthetic — blend with the story being told in ways that become clear and powerful by Act 3.

Linoleum’s conclusion is a savvy surprise, one that capitalizes on the investment the audience is sure to make in Cam, his family and his happiness. Thanks not only to those performances but to West’s masterful storytelling, a movie that feels like a light-hearted jaunt becomes an emotional powerhouse that leaves you reeling.

Scary Christmas

Double Walker

by Hope Madden

You know that lyric from It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — “there’ll be scary ghost stories”? I was an adult before I realized Andy Williams was talking about Scrooge.

Filmmaker Colin West reminds us that that story, and Christmas ghosts in general, can be pretty scary and awfully damaging in his latest, Double Walker.

We open on a blood stain, then a funeral, then a despondent mother (Maika Carter), but her grief is more complicated than it looks.

From there, West’s film follows one young woman (co-writer Sylvie Mix, Poser) who looks very cold and vulnerable on the wintery streets of Columbus, Ohio. As one nice guy after another offers aid, West toys with your preconceived notions. Is she a dangerous psychopath? A victim in the making? Is Double Walker possibly a riff on Emerald Fennell’s glorious Promising Young Woman?

Not exactly. And maybe. But not really.

What the filmmakers have done is to fracture a storyline in favor of a mood, one that takes on the surreal qualities of a haunting.

A meditation on trauma, Double Walker sidesteps easy summarization but never feels unmoored. Like the old Dickens story, this tale wonders at the ripple effects of behaviors, how a change here or there might yet alter the course of events.

Mix is hollow, chilly melancholy as the central figure, wandering into and out of an interconnected group of lives. The almost expressionless performance through the bulk of her screentime allows the mystery to unravel around her without giveaways. It also adds weight to the rare smile and horror to her sudden movements.

Not every performance is as strong, but West evokes such a poignant and dreamlike atmosphere that minor acting hiccups can be overlooked. He casts a spell with his feature debut and it’s hard not to wonder what both he and Mix might do next.