Green, As in…

08/29/2012 4:00 AM |

Green
Directed by Sophia Takal

Green as in Green Acres: in this Brooklyn indie—featuring many members of the bourgeoning and incestuous local scene—two city slickers leave Kings County for sectors south; they’re urban intellectuals who discuss Philip Roth’s oeuvre at parties relocated to a plot of rock below the Mason-Dixon. She’s an erstwhile bookseller who might do some writing; he’s a journalist, blogging about sustainable living. (Green as in eco-conscious.) Enter into this situation their new neighbor: a beery, twangy chatterbox who likes to linger just past her welcome.

At first, Sebastian (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Ginny (Kate Lyn Sheil) regard Robin (director Takal) with mild condescension; they’re polite in person, but snickering in private, as when they laugh in bed at her opinions of different Batman movies, which they dismiss. (“I think one’s ridiculous,” Sebastian tells Ginny of the Tim Burton original, “and the other’s crypto-fascist,” he says of The Dark Knight.) But Robin’s presence gradually exposes the fragility of their relationship, drawing out Sebastian’s potential for infidelity and Ginny’s insecurities. (Green as in jealous.)

The filmmaking is as sophisticated as the urbane protagonists. Director Takal, with cinematographer Nandan Rao, suggests the characters’ alienation from each other through camerawork: in dialogue scenes, the camera often wanders in slow pans from one character to another, making physically manifest their expanding emotional separation; characters appear in shots together almost only from very far away. Even then, they’re usually obscured by trees, overwhelmed by space, or cut off by the edges of the frame—you could say they’re in over their heads. (Green as in verdant, but Green as in naive.) Ernesto Carcamo’s moaning score and Rao’s long takes create a lingering sense of Martha Marcy May Marlene-style dread. But don’t expect it to break. Green is a fish-out-of-water story, but it’s not about the drive to violence, or even whether big-city folk can cut it in the sticks. It’s a quiet and elegant study in whether love can withstand relocation—an anxiety common to many a Brooklyn transplant.

Opens September 7 at reRun