Gen Art Film Festival 2010: Waiting for Forever

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Although it’s billed as a romantic comedy, Waiting for Forever isn’t really romantic or comedic. Instead the film, written by Steve Adams and directed by James Keach, explores the dualities of relationships in a way that makes the characters seem emotionally unstable and juvenile instead of layered. The story follows Will Donnor (Tom Sturridge), a twenty-something guy who exclusively wears pajamas, juggles for a living, and has no motivation to do anything except follow struggling actress Emma Twist (Rachel Bilson), a childhood friend, from city to city because he believes that they are destined to be together.

Left: Rachel Bilson; Right: Tom Sturridge

The problem is, Will doesn’t believe he is stalking Emma. He actually hasn’t spoken to her since they were kids, and as he explains, he only wants to be near where she is and to wake up each day with the hope that he might run into her. It’s a creepily sweet sentiment, until you remember that Will has kept close enough tabs on Emma to know when and where she moves, and when the film begins, that she is making a trip back home to visit her dying father (Richard Jenkins) and emotionally distraught mother (Blythe Danner).

Left: Blythe Danner; Right: Producer Jane Seymour

After the audience is introduced to the peripheral characters — Will’s likable married friends Joe and Dolores (Nelson Franklin and Nikki Blonsky), and his tough loving brother, Jim (Scott Mechlowicz) and sister-in-law, Susan (Jaime King) — Will finds the courage to re-connect with Emma near the middle of the film, and the two spend a day together recounting their childhood memories.

All goes well, until Emma realizes that Will has been following her for years and that he’s completely bonkers. (He talks to his dead parents. Out loud.) An understandably freaked out Emma returns to her not-so-nice boyfriend, Aaron (Matthew Davis), and tells him about Will’s bizarre behavior.

Despite a dark(ish) plot twist that is concocted by Aaron and far-too-easily resolved, the film ends on a saccharine note (à la Elizabethtown ) that left me unsatisfied. It had all of the right ingredients for an insightful exploration of relationships, but became too concerned with trying to prove that Will is a hopeful character who is simply misunderstood by society. In the end, this is Waiting for Forever‘s Achilles heel, rendering what might have been an interesting indie rather uncomfortable to watch.

Waiting for Forever is currently on the festival circuit and looking for a distributor.

The Gen Art Film Festival, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, is a week of premieres that spotlight the most talented emerging filmmakers in North America. Click here for 2010 film information and tickets.