This was the second of two indie dramas I saw this last week, and this one took a very different approach to stand out. But how well it worked is another matter, because the actual plot isn’t that interesting by itself.
Becks comes from the director pair of Daniel Powell (who’s done several episodes of Inside Amy Schumer), Elizabeth Rohrbaugh (who hasn’t directed much), who also co-wrote the movie with Rebecca Drysdale (who also wrote for Key and Peele). That’s a lot of cooks, and the movie is also a bit muddled, but it’s not bad.
The main character is Rebecca or ‘Becks’ (Broadway star Lena Hall), an aspiring musician who leaves everything to move from NYC to follow her girlfriend’s dream job in what is presumed to be Hollywood or something similar. But she walks in on her girlfriend explicitly cheating on her with someone else, so that’s over with.
So Becks heads back to her small hometown (which is St. Louis, which is not a small town, but it looks like a small town and feels like one in this movie — I think it’s just one random suburb) and moves back in with her mother. Her mother (Christine Lahti) is confusingly characterized, meaning it’s not clear if she’s bigoted or not about her daughter’s sexual orientation. She’s very Catholic, which is one point of contention between them.
Becks is a talented guitar player, so she plans to offer her tutoring services to anyone, but there aren’t any takers at first. She reconnects with her old high school buddy Dave (Dan Fogler) at the bar he’s opened, and their rapport and conversation does a lot to make these characters actually interesting, because the interactions with Becks and her mother were not interesting at all.
Dave offers Becks the opportunity to play at his bar anytime she wants, and it turns out that Tony Award winner Lena Hall is a pretty good guitar player and singer. Things get intense and confusing when Becks runs into Elyse (Mena Suvari), the wife of a guy who tormented Becks in high school. The movie immediately makes it obvious that there’s some sort of attraction between them, so it ends up a question of will the movie screw it up?
It turns out that it doesn’t, but it doesn’t try that hard either. The movie is buoyed by intermittent strong musical numbers, and Lena Hall’s excellent chemistry with Mena Suvari, who I seem to have not seen in anything in forever but her IMDB page reveals she’s been acting constantly, including Inside Amy Schumer, which I’m only now remembering.
Lena Hall is a very talented singer and musical performer, but she isn’t always as good at the more subtle character work, although Mena Suvari is great and I’m really warming up to Dan Fogler. Hard to believe he was the guy who so annoyed me in Balls of Fury and Fanboys but he’s great here. The writing isn’t so great in the movie, and the direction wavers between intimate, warm scenes and generic workmanlike shots. The characters themselves are mostly interesting, and that elevates any movie.
I think the movie is afraid to be truly risky until the end, but the ending works well. This may not be the standout indie drama of the year, and it’s not that funny, but it’s quite pleasant overall.
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Becks has a run time of 1 hour 30 minutes and is not rated.