Indie filmmaker David Spaltro's THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND is a little film that discusses life's big issues. Death and dying; love and loss; and family and friendship are some of the central themes of the film. THINGS is thought provoking while at the same time manages to avoid being preachy. Considering the serious nature of its subject matters, it is surprisingly enjoyable thanks to a beautiful script penned by Spaltro himself, as well as some outstanding performances by his cast.
The film's central character Violet has a pretty messed up life. As a result of this and some of her experiences in the past, she is obsessed with the subject of death and what happens after people die. She starts interviewing people who have had near-death experiences, but rather unexpectedly, she actually learns the most about death when she meets and befriends Sarah, a young lady terminally ill with cancer who is slowly dying.
Molly Ryman gives an immensely likeable performance as the damaged character of Violet, no doubt helped by her cute looks and mannerisms. Her performance is certainly what holds the movie together, whereas actress Grace Folsom's amazing portrayal of Sarah adds sheer brilliance to the film. The best parts of THINGS are those that involve these two characters and the final scene between them, one that is truly touching and deeply affecting, offers the film's most memorable moment. Another notable performance is that by Hugo Dillon, who plays one of Violet's roommates, a musician who is struggling with his career and relationships but still retains a sense of humor. There is little doubt that a large part of this film's success is the result of how real the characters feel, how believable they are and how easy it is for viewers to relate to them.
THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND seems to be a very personal project, and director / screenwriter Spaltro must have contemplated a lot about the different subjects covered in his film. As a result, he is able to create something that is both insightful and meaningful. It takes you on a journey that will make you laugh, make you cry, and most importantly, make you think - about life's bigger issues that you may be too busy to ponder about right now. This film also serves as a gentle reminder to today's filmmakers that it is not necessary to have a large budget, a big-name cast, or fancy computer graphics in order to make a great film.
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