Bittersweet Place

Bittersweet Place

Bittersweet Place to me is a prime example of what can be unappealing about indie films. I was bored within the first five minutes, and it never came close to winning me back.

It’s one of those films where you’re dropped in the middle and expected to gradually figure out who’s who and what’s going on. But when a film’s as dull and/or confusing as this one, I’m unable to pay close attention, so rather than being able to follow it better and better as more is revealed, I drift in the other direction and increasingly lose touch with it.

There’s not much of a storyline, at least as far as I could discern, so it’s not like seeing how the plot would develop gave me a reason to pay attention. None of the characters are particularly appealing or interesting.

I think—based on the brief time my mind wasn’t wandering miles away—it’s about a dysfunctional Jewish family. The head of the family is a widower who owns a car service. He has two or three daughters or daughters-in-law, and two or three sons or sons-in-law, most or all of whom seem to work for the business. He has a girlfriend that the others evidently don’t like. And then a more observant young male Jew moves into the neighborhood, and he and the old man become friends, after initially clashing. (I have no more than a vague idea why they clashed, or why they made up, except that the old man seems to want to go back to his roots and take his religion more seriously, and I think he sees associating with this guy as a way to facilitate that.)

So, all these characters go back and forth—bickering, having tender moments, making accusations, looking dissatisfied, etc., all in a dramatic, meaningful, indie kind of way. Like I say, the specifics of it mostly escaped me. I wasn’t keeping close track of who was who, and I generally didn’t know why, or if, it would make sense for this person to be doing or saying this at this point of the movie.

It’s all very low budget looking, which adds to the general downer feel of the film. Plus, on a more practical level, I think the audio is subpar, as I couldn’t make out a certain percentage of the dialogue. (Or it could be my hearing, but I doubt it, since in that case I’d expect to miss about the same amount from any movie, whereas in fact I missed noticeably more of the dialogue from this one than I normally do.)

I didn’t care about these people, and I didn’t care about anything that happened in Bittersweet Place. I’m sure some of it is the mood I was in—maybe I was even less open to this kind of movie than usual, or maybe I wasn’t in the mood to watch a movie at all—but I think all that means is that on its best day, when I’m most in tune with it, I’d rate this film fairly low, whereas given the unreceptive mood I was in when I watched it, I experienced it as quite possibly the least enjoyable film of any I’ve written about so far, or certainly in the bottom handful.

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