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Review: Chad Archibald's Neverlost (2011)

Jun. 30, 2011by: Andre Manseau

PLOT: Josh loses his sweetheart Kate in a horrible fire. After suffering an accident and hitting up some strange medication, Josh becomes torn between an imaginary world and his own where he must face an alternate reality than the one he's in.

REVIEW:This is a different sort of flick, one that will keep you guessing throughout. Comes off sort of artsy-fartsy in a way and treads some ground that may leave you scratching your head. It's a bit of a trip and certainly something that screws with your mind, in a good way. This is certainly an inventive film.Having said that, I will certainly give props to this flick for pulling it off pretty well and wrapping things up relatively nicely. You'll be asking yourself which world is real, and which you'd like to see be the truthful one in the end.  

As we know from great films like The Machinist, insomnia is not something to mess with and when it strikes, you could end up with some blurry reality. The whole thing reminded me of one of those "what if you could live THIS way" movies, except the alternate universe in this one isn't given by a fairy, isn't black and white in terms of what's desirable and what's not. The lines between what's real and what's not are undoubtedly blurred. Ryan Barrett plays Josh, our protagonist who is frankly pretty broken as the film begins. He goes on a truly emotional journey that is both heart wrenching and thought provoking. His performance is quite good, and a lot of the film's success hinges upon it.

When he sees his lost love in the drug-induced world, he regains a certain lost sense of feeling and conveys it well and conversely hardens again when dealing with his current wife, Meg. And Neverlost succeeds because it's a three dimensional story that gives shades of gray. I felt for Josh's wife Meg, because she seemed like a replacement who was essentially being held to impossible standards. Sure, she's not exactly perfect, but how could she ever stand up to an infatuated memory? Her character is played well by Jenn Polansky. Although she turns in arguably the weakest performance of the main actors, Emily Alatalo's Kate is a crucial character as well. I don't imagine it would be an easy task to play the lost love of Ryan, but the girl just doesn't pack any real 'oomph' in her performance and simply seems to lack any real presence.

You see, poor Josh really hates his wife, Meg and has all but completely withdrawn from her as he suffers from a serious case of insomnia. The poor guy's in such a lousy place that he has strong thoughts of killing his own wife.  And although Meg's character can come off pretty awfully sometimes (and by that I mean she doesn't always seem super nice), it's hard not to identify with her at least a little. I mean, how can the woman compete with the ghost of unrequited love? She can't, simple as that.  I didn't always dig the villainous character of Mr. Mills, Kate's father who becomes an out and out beast as the film switches between realities (see, he's linked to the whole fire aspect of the film).

I felt that he was a little over the top and although I know that things in the 'dream' state can be overblown, his enraged character fell a little flat with me. I don't want to give away too much about this story, because it's the key point of the film. I can say that on the criticism side of things, there were times when the acting wasn't up to the heavy load required, and felt a little stiff. Because this is the director's first real film, you can't help but feel the whole project seemed a bit ambitious for a sophomore effort.

I say this solely on the basis that sometimes the acting is spot on, and at times its uneven. I know I mentioned the performances earlier, but I can certainly add on the thought that they weren't always uniform throughout the film. On top of that, some of the effects weren't so hot (on the flip side, the movie had good blur effects). The film's ending might turn some viewers off, but I understood where the filmmakers were coming from. Neverlost is a sad story that demonstrates the bonds (and resulting conflicts) of what we believe to be true love.

I feel as though it takes every single ounce of what it has and stretches it to the very limit, which isn't always great but shows definite effort. It's a different sort of flick that certainly deserves some attention. After all, who doesn't find themselves looking back, missing the one that got away, wondering how things would be if they'd turned out differently? Different, decently acted and worth your time if you're looking for something that's not so much horror-related as it is fantasy, Neverlost is pretty 'out there'.

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