The Wait (R)

Drama 96 min. January 31, 2014
By Alan Scherstuhl
Gorgeous and haunting, inscrutable but rewarding of scrutiny, writer-director M. Blash's The Wait achieves the rare distinction of being warm and unsettling at the same time, framing grief drama, a grown-love story and the possibility of reality-bending magic in a prickly narrative given to reveries and freak-outs. It's the kind of movie where mopey characters slump in the middle of exquisitely composed shots, staring hard at something grand or confounding just beyond the camera. Sometimes Blash shows us what they're regarding: firefighting airplanes dumping retardant over an Oregon forest, a fetching young woman adjusting her bathing suit by a country club pool. Other times, it's left to us to construct meaning — and even, on occasion, incident. The Wait does have a story. As her mother dies in quick, well-acted scenes, Emma (Chloë Sevigny) takes a phone call from a strange woman who seems to know what's happening -- and who promises, vaguely, that "they will return." Emma takes this to be a sign that she and sister Angela (Jena Malone) should let the death go unreported for a few days. She prefers to leave the body in the bedroom, just in case. Angela, of course, considers this mad, and the sisters' first blowouts on the subject prove bruising. One sister is clinging to an impossible hope; the other is embarrassed for them both. There are lots of other things happening, too, most of them incidentally interesting, some mysteriously affecting. But too many of these moments of beauty and strangeness feel like musical notes that, while well played, never collect into anything like a chord — although they do accumulate into a mood of chilly, gently surreal isolation.
M. Blash Jena Malone, Chloë Sevigny, Luke Grimes, Devon Gearhart, Michael O'Keefe, Josh Hamilton, Lana Elizabeth Green, Henry Gummer, Trey Hansen M. Blash Monterey Media

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