What happens when someone has so much social anxiety that they cease to function? How alone can one man get? When the mundane crap we have to do in order to be part of society gets to be too much, what happens? Frownland explores these questions. Definitely a startling original debut from Bronstein. The tone is strange and claustrophobic as we get inside the mind of a guy named Keith that is so messed up he can hardly form a proper sentence. We follow him around as he tries to make contact with people and function day to day. Most of us have known people like this- people that say "sorry" too much or "i appreciate it" when there's nothing to appreciate. So we know there are people out there like this but why would someone want to make a movie about them? Well, because its interesting and Bronstein and the lead actor, Dore Mann, do an excellent job. This film is about as un-commercial as a film can get. A few friends filmed it over the course of a few years as they saved money. It was shot on 16mm and the scratched film look is beautifully low budget. With no distributer, this may be a tough one to find, I think it's been screening randomly for the past year or so. Hopefully it'll be on DVD at some point. I saw it at the Silent Movie Theater here in LA. There were 10 people in the audience, among them Crispin Glover, if that tells you anything about how weird this movie is. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by adamdonaghey10 / 10
Better bring a doggie bag
Frownland is like one of those intensely embarrassing situations where you end up laughing out loud at exactly the wrong time; and just at the moment you realize you shouldn't be laughing, you've already reached the pinnacle of voice resoundness; and as you look around you at the ghostly white faces with their gaping wide-open mouths and glazen eyes, you feel a piercing ache beginning in the pit of your stomach and suddenly rushing up your throat and... well, you get the point.
But for all its unpleasantness and punches in the face, Frownland, really is a remarkable piece of work that, after viewing the inarticulate mess of a main character and all his pathetic troubles and mishaps, makes you want to scratch your own eyes out and at the same time, you feel sickenly sorry for him.
It would have been a lot easier for me to simply walk out of Ronald Bronstein's film, but for some insane reason, I felt an unwavering determination to stay the course and experience all the grainy irritation the film has to offer. If someone sets you on fire, you typically want to put it out: Stop! Drop! And Roll! But with this film, you want to watch the flame slowly engulf your entire body. You endure the pain--perhaps out of spite, or some unknown masochistic curiosity I can't even begin to attempt to explain.
Unfortunately, mainstream cinema will never let this film come to a theater near you. But if you get a chance to catch it, prepare yourself: bring a doggie bag.
Reviewed by fzyukocfuniucj6 / 10
Deeply distinctive, memorable, peculiar, but also repulsive
I wavered between loving and hating this movie as I watched it. The movie has some good, offbeat humorous moments, but they're a bit few and far between. The main character is a schlub who is virtually completely incapable of effectively communicating with anyone around him. This is a type of character that doesn't generally get any attention in film, so focusing on him is an intriguing idea, but it only half works for me. The movie brings up the question sometimes faced by independent movies focusing on unlikeable individuals: Why would you want to spend nearly two hours with such a person? On the other hand, after it was over, a former roommate said, "Thank you for being SUCH a good roommate!" while another friend commented that he appreciates all his existing friends much more after having seen this movie, because the characters were so screwed-up and annoying. The movie has some funny scenes also focusing on the main character's roommate, who is much more articulate but also a total deadbeat. Perhaps the movie could use some judicious editing from its current form (roughly 109-115 minutes at a screening in NYC in April 2007). Interestingly, the movie doesn't spell out the relationships between various characters -- I suspect perhaps as a way of avoiding "exposition anvils" and keeping things as realistic as possible. I would've liked to learn more about the character of Laura, who remains reticent and mysterious.
Also, kudos to the movie for redressing the total lack of mucus in modern cinema. There is a decent amount of realistic and well-placed snot in this film. In one case, the snot is totally hilarious and unexpected. Maybe it should have been called "Snotland."