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gravida: The Uber-Indie Project Turns the Camera on Itself

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Starring: Rachel Shaw and Adam Kukic
Cinematography by: David Eger
Written and directed by: Lucas McNelly[1]$2,000/25 min/Pittsburgh, PA

We come now to our biggest ever conflict of interest, Lucas McNelly's gravida (2007), a film made by the very person who does these reviews you've come to eagerly await. Naturally, I cannot review my own film. That would be weird and completely inappropriate, which is probably just as well because I'm at the point right now where I can't stand to look at it anymore. But does that mean gravida should be denied the rich experience that is the Uber-Indie Project? Of course not. So, I've asked ten of my fellow bloggers to review it for me and if any other reviews trickle in, I'll add those as well. They are under strict orders to not treat the film with kids gloves. Good, bad, indifferent. They're all here.

And away we go…

"The short film is a 'study in loneliness' from dedicated indie filmmaker Lucas McNelly, the creative mind behind the stark, French New Wave-inspired L'Attente (2006). Expressing an intangible concept like loneliness through the screen might seem problematic, but McNelly takes his best shot… The results are heartfelt and poetic. If McNelly is striving to craft an indie film masterwork gravida is a major step in the right direction." — Thom Ryan, Film of the Year

gravida bathroom "Like the best films about intimacy, it draws you in close but leaves out enough that you can project your own hopes and fears onto the characters. This allows for conflicting sympathies and ensures that not everyone in the audience relates with the characters in the same way.

Loneliness is a mysterious beast, hard to tame. Resisting the temptation to simplify, gravida invites us to ponder the complexity of the choices we make, the unreliability of human connections." — Matt Riviera, Last Night with Riviera

"Watching gravida, I gained a little more faith in ultra-low budget filmmaking; it's far from a perfect film, but it shows that you don't need a lot of money to make a smart, personal, interesting movie. To do this, Lucas McNelly's film utilizes the writer-director's ear for dialogue and some intriguing subtext in its look at a woman who's dealing with something very familiar: loneliness." — Pacheco, Bohemian Cinema

"gravida deals with a delicate subject matter, and could have lost the audience's interest and trust without a careful hand, but Lucas is certainly up to the task. Lucas' camera is never obtrusive, acting more as an invisible observer even when the story's emotions peak. Actors Rachel Shaw and Adam Kukic find their stride as the story builds and are able to sell the idea that their characters are facing troubling, adult decisions." — Adam Ross, DVD Panache

"gravida is an excellent short film. Beautifully photographed with a terrific lead performance by Rachel Shaw. Called 'A Study In Loneliness', the film effectively creates a very somber tone that it is able to sustain throughout. It almost works as a silent film, as the visuals are so strong." — TalkingMoviezzz.com (plus an interview)

"Filmmaking in general could use a little bit more of Lucas' talent because he uses the medium perfectly: revealing pieces about characters in matter-of-fact glimpses, letting the audience in on what the other characters don't know just yet… The camera work is also a perfect complement to the story. Long static shots and few edits help capture the stillness of Kristin's life. The camera rarely moves, instead it sits there often from a distance, letting us take in what we are seeing." — Piper, LAZY EYE THEATRE

"gravida fails to explore its subject matter in any great depth, but it undeniably represents a big step forward for its director… I merely feel that he could have penetrated deeper into the underlying causes and nature of his protagonist’s despair… That said, I definitely enjoyed the film (which, incidentally, holds up to repeat viewings), and it contains a number of moments that I like quite a bit." — Andy Horbal, Mirror/Stage

"Lucas McNelly has made a serenely confident short film, with which he shows a real facility as a director. He never tries to dazzle the audience with flashy technique or camera work, preferring his style to be dictated by his material. Despite his obvious budgetary constraints, he’s capable of some lovely low-key touches, like his use of colored lighting in the climactic revelation scene… gravida is small film in the best sense, one that’s exactly the right size for the story it tells. McNelly’s direction is subtle enough not to overwhelm the film, but strong enough to assure us that there’s a firm hand on the wheel." — Paul Clark, Silly Hats Only

"[McNelly] has produced a film of understated elegance and thoughtfulness that allows the viewer to glimpse, ever so briefly, a moment in time that will be burned for eternity in the heart and mind of its protagonist… He's the best kind of filmmaker there is, the kind driven by a love of the art, not a desire for a contract… gravida is not a perfect film but considering the budget and time limitations it is quite an achievement." — Jonathan Lapper, Cinema Styles

"[McNelly] and Shaw effortlessly illustrate the moment when she grasps the temporal fleetingness of this comfortable, familiar sort of pain and longing, which is about to become but a wistful memory. In the end, the movie slips through our fingers, like a memory itself, which is, as it turns out, its most impressionable, poetic quality. gravida marks the first sure steps in what one hopes will be a long and fruitful filmmaking career for its director." — Dennis Cozzalio, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule (plus an interview)

[1] In addition to being your humble host and narrator, Lucas is a kind and generous soul, according to such impartial sources as his mom.

You can check out gravida at the official web page, where there are all sorts of wonderful things for you to explore and a DVD to buy. You can also visit Lucas McNelly's MySpace page, his IndieFilmPedia page, and his blog, 100 films.

Got a film you'd like to submit for the Uber-Indie Project? Go here for details.

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