The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie that put me in the headspace of my seventeen year old self in the way that Body & Bones does. The debut feature of Melanie Oates is an honest story of a young girl lost in the world.
The pacing is rather slow, but it feels very easy and natural. The visuals and the editing make a really serene atmosphere, even though we can tell there is a lot going on in Tess’s head. Danny Sharpe comes into Tess’s life at a pivotal moment, but she is hopelessly lost in her transition to adulthood. I think one of the saddest and most memorable parts of the film is when Tess is kept up all night hearing Danny have sex with someone else through the other room and she puts her headphones on, listening to his music to drown it out. This movie is from a raw female perspective that not only tackles grief in the saddest sense, but themes of depression and growing up on top of all of that. The grown ups in her life don’t know what to do with her and she can’t seem to find purpose on her own.
Tess is a high school senior trying to navigate through the grief of her mother’s passing. Being stuck in the care of her mother’s boyfriend, he brings her to live in his new girlfriend’s house, where she is staying in her adult son Danny’s childhood room. There she finds cassette tapes of his music that brings her solace. When forty something Danny comes home, she puts a face to his music, becoming increasingly infatuated with him. It’s a coming of age story of sorts. It’s a film about an impressionable girl trying to come out of a state of loss and confusion in a very sad but truthful way that I greatly appreciate.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I'd like to give mad props to Kelly Van der Burg who leads the film. Tess as a character feels rocky, but in the grand scheme of it, she has to be for the film to make any sense. I can only imagine the headspace you have to be in to carry a character like that, and Van der Berg nails it. I understand how it feels to like somebody so much who doesn’t share the same affection for you. I also know what it’s like to feel to have absolutely no one. However, I didn’t feel as strong of a development as I was expecting to and I think that’s the point. She becomes so consumed with her feelings for Danny, which many young girls experience when feeling those things for the first time. It seems like her only trait is being in love with Danny, which I know isn’t true. We get a really powerful scene later on where she’s on Danny’s floor crying that shows a different side of her for a moment. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish we got to dig a little deeper into who she is beyond her obsession for this gross man.
Speaking of which, Joel Thomas Hynes gives a scarily accurate performance of your all-around loser. Danny is your typical scumbag, to the point where I thought of ten people I know just from one look at him. Again, not much to him, but he just is what he needs to be for the story and it works.
... an honest story of a young girl lost in the world.
BODY & BONES (2020)
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Danny’s music struck my interest from the get-go. Written and performed by Joel Thomas Hynes, it’s actually his own music that he lent to the movie for Danny. I find that super cool and makes his character feel truly authentic. The overall sound design was great, especially the scene in the doctor’s office when Tess is losing consciousness but she can hear the nurses yammering on about their lives.
There were just as many moments that made me gravitate towards the screen as there were moments that made me feel uncomfy. I think it’s important for films to do that in order to fully experience the story with the characters. If you like a no frills drama with a very realistic story, this is a pretty good contender.
BODY & BONES - Now Available On VOD (Canada,UK)
I really dig the overall color correction paired with the production design. The cinematography is really clean and consistent while not trying to overcompensate. The colorful cutaways of Tess swimming underwater stood out to me the most. I also really enjoyed the fish in the toilet bowl. These visuals aren’t just colorful fodder though; they’re helpful to understand what's in her head when she doesn’t say it out loud.