Posted Date: Friday, October 4, 2013
In watching Matthew Kowalchuk and Daniel Arnold’s witty adaption of Morris Panych’s dark comedy (what a mouthful!) into film, I’m torn in placing myself either as a pessimist or an optimist.
The absurd crossing between the extreme optimist Lawrence and the very pessimistic Holloman begins a twisted relationship that ultimately becomes an instrument towards their demise. Lawrence’s unrelenting optimism infuriates Holloman as he refuses to accept how Lawrence can sustain such a perspective, yet Lawrence believes he can always count on Holloman to help him persevere through his adversities. The clash in viewpoints cycles up and down like a vicious health diet.
When asked about balancing between the comic facade and the underlying existential crisis that Arnold depicted for his character, Holloman, he mentioned his inspiration came from John Turturro in Barton Fink! “He had such a quiet, barely contained mania about him, that would burst out in kind of effeminate arm-flinging ways -- and I just thought a lot of that energy was in Holloman as well. So I tried to channel my inner-Turturro!”
But that’s just one facet of the film. What also makes the writing stand out even more is the effortless film editing of the footage where one suddenly gets taken into the violent and dark reveries of the character’s psyche and like jolting from a bad dream, reality registers back in quickly. “Visually, we came up with two main ideas to show each character’s perspective,” Kowalchuk comments. “First was movement. When Lawrence is around, we feel a more active world, and the camera is a big part of that. With Holloman, there is often stillness, in him, around him, and of course, from the camera. We also came up with two separate colour palettes for the film, and depending on which character is “leading” the story, you’ll notice the world around them feels a little brighter or darker in each case.” This editing process really allows the filmmakers to comment instantaneously on the actions in ways that recall upon another level of a character’s subconsciousness.
In writing something from the stage to screen, Arnold discusses that the process itself contains many layers. “A lot of my prep to play Holloman feels like it was actually happening as we adapted the script from stage to screen. In order to write someone truthfully, I think you have to understand them in an intellectual and emotional way, so I had some time through the writing process to sink into the guy, his motivations, his inner and outer life... In the end, I think you just take the material itself, what speaks to you about the character, and you try to find where it lives in you personally.”
Writing to keep the screenplay “funny” was also essential to the narrative, Kowalchuk mentions. “There was no sense in creating a film in which everyone ‘gets’ it unless the audience could also laugh their asses off at the same time.” I think its safe to say that when it comes down to telling a story, develop empathy in your characters first, then release the safety lock to unleash its monsters.
Lawrence and Holloman will be screening today at 6:30PM at the Empire City Centre Theatre. Tickets for today’s event is going fast! Only $13 at the door.