Cinequest 19 opening night: Wake

Wake was the opening night (2/25/2009) film at this year’s Cinequest film festival. Before the film there were the usual opening night speeches and thanking of sponsors, though the four models pushing the designer Hewlett-Packard “digital clutch” were a bit odd. But all of that and a brief introduction of the film by the director only took us to about 25 minutes after the official start time, which wasn’t too bad.

The film opens in a mortuary, with a young woman on the table having makeup applied. She’s Carys (Bijou Phillips), and she turns out to be alive. Her friend Shane is the undertaker applying the makeup. Carys wants Shane to tell her a good funeral to crash—one where she might actually feel some emotions. She does in fact attend a funeral, where she meets Tyler and attempts to fake her way through explaining how she knows the deceased.

This is a movie high on the “I Love Lucy” quotient, which means that you see the main character doing stupid things that will sooner or later cause them serious problems. Such things are generally uncomfortable to watch, since you can’t tell the people on the screen that they’re being foolish. At least not productively.

To be honest, I had heard from someone that this movie wasn’t very good, so my expectations were low. The good news is that it substantially exceeded those expectations. The acting was usually okay, with only occasional clunky lines. The plot actually did have a few interesting moments rather than being 100% predictable. It even had a semi-ambiguous ending, which I like. So it’s far from the worst Cinequest opening night film, though that’s not hard. I’ll give it 2.5 stars out of 4 stars.

Afterwards the director, writer, producers, and a few stars were there to answer questions. Here’s some answers that I wrote down (there may be spoilers below):

  • They started working on it about a year before shooting, shot for four weeks, and there was three months of post production
  • Bijou Philips wanted to do the film because it was different from what she had done before, and it was funny
  • It was filmed in and around Los Angeles
  • The interior of the cabin was a set
  • Tyler’s house had about 20 cats, so most of the crew was glad not to have to go into it
  • This was the world premiere
  • The writer started with someone who’s broken inside and goes to funerals to try to feel something, and then tried to figure out what would be the worst thing that could happen
  • The writer wrote this in film school, and had not seen Harold and Maude before writing it
  • One scene in the cabin was shot at 2am, with everyone really tired
  • The director’s next film will be one that her husband wrote, and is called Bitter
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One Response to “Cinequest 19 opening night: Wake

  1. Final Cinequest 19 Thoughts « Random Musings About Movies, Running, and More Says:

    […] Wake— […]

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