Overview: Distraught by his girlfriend’s murder, a teen uses his school video project to track down the killer. Indie Rights; 2016; Not Rated; 85 minutes.
People We Know: Everyone knew a girl like Jessie Martell in high school. She’s young and beautiful, marred by the all-too-common story of divorce, an absent father, and an unquenchable thirst for attention and fame. Shot after shot shows her hunger for the camera as she dramatically pouts and poses, practicing for her dream modelling job in LA. Like any troubled teen, she holds a fascination with death and darkness, a vague interest in masochistic sex and a rebellious disposition. She has a cheeky comeback for anyone who questions her behaviour no matter their intentions. Of course, all of her outlandish behaviours only serve to cover up her pain. When asked why she wants to leave Colorado, Jessie (Valentina de Angelis) can only say she’s always wanted to be a model and that it’s “easier to leave the people you love before they leave you.”
Be Genuine; Be Truthful: Everlasting is a unique and compelling film that never quite fits the mold of any genre it pulls from. It is all at once a love story, a suspenseful revenge film, and at times a cautionary tale about the pull of fame and its dark side. It’s not the first film to highlight the latter, but it does so in a way that is stylish and understated. But while this story appears to be about Jessie’s descent into darkness, it’s really about her boyfriend Matt (Adam David). After receiving a snuff tape of Jessie’s death, he takes it upon himself to return to Los Angeles going around what he believes to be a flawed justice system (a theme that comes up repeatedly) and confronting Jessie’s killer. The audience watches Matt’s quiet descent while he investigates what led to Jessie’s.
Teen Dream: At times Everlasting is a frustrating watch that requires a constant reminder that these are teenagers. It features classic young love that’s true to their age–forever doesn’t mean anything when you’re seventeen, but it sure feels like it. There are glimpses into the immaturity of their relationship, their inability to manage conflict, and their unrealistic views of each other and the future. Unfortunately Matt will not grow out of this stage with Jessie, making it feel like he’s caught in a perpetual hell until he receives closure about her death. That closure doesn’t come in a traditional way as the ending of Everlasting is a bit of a surprise and the tensest moment of the movie. It’s a steady punch, but lacks the follow through to leave a lasting mark.
The Goods: Though the couple’s performances seem forced at the beginning–particularly in Matt’s voiceover narration–they strengthen over time. David has the intensity and focus that’s required for the role despite his fresh face. Bai Ling (The Crow, Anna and the King) gives a standout performance as the mysterious and dark Christiane as does Elisabeth Röhm (Joy, American Hustle) playing Jessie’s grieving alcoholic mother. Michael Massee (Se7en, The Crow) confidently carries the tension of the film through with his intimidating presence and distinctive voice. His untimely and tragic passing earlier this week is made all the more haunting in consideration of the shocking climax. Despite the terror, Everlasting is a really beautiful movie to look at. There’s an exceptional use of lighting, modelling shots and gorgeous scenery to take in behind the darkness of the story. Perhaps most impressive is the balance between the use of home video, POV, and real time footage. The transitions were smooth and never distracting, a common problem in this type of film.
Overall: Everlasting is a feisty and good-looking feature debut from director Anthony Stabley that will definitely find its niche in the indie scene.
Featured Image: Indie Rights