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Rated 3.24 stars
by 99 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Is That All There Is?
by Betty Jo Tucker

Clearly, independent filmmaker David Spaltro did more than a bit of soul searching about “the idea of faith and its individual meaning to every person” before taking on Things I Don’t Understand as his second feature motion picture. Fortunately, that personal examination paid off.  This inspiring movie follows an intelligent but troubled young woman as she tries to discover what happens to us after we die. Sounds like a downer, right? Well, it could be – but in this case the film includes amusing characters and humorous situations to liven up the profound theme. Plus there’s an unusual love story thrown in for incurable romantics like me.   

Lovely Molly Ryman (…Around) plays Violet, a once promising grad student in psychology and sociology, who’s now working in a low-pressure job at a bookstore while living in a Brooklyn loft with two quirky roommates (Meissa Hampton and Hugo Dillon). The survivor of a failed suicide attempt, Violet appears obsessed about death and the afterlife. After a mentor (Lisa Eichorn) encourages her to complete her thesis on the subject, our heroine begins a close relationship with Sara (Grace Folsom), a former dancer in the last stages of cancer. Violet also becomes interested in Parker (Aaron Mathias), a handsome but seemingly indifferent bartender. These diverse characters in Violet’s world play key roles in helping her learn how to “regroup and move on” no matter what unexpected difficulties come her way.

Yes, Violet has a lot on her plate -- the loss of a sister, her own suicide attempt, the threat of eviction, the sudden appearance of a ghost, the uncertainly about Parker’s feelings about her -- but life’s not always a “bowl of cherries” like the old song promises.

Ryman is definitely an actress to watch. She brings an appealing soulfulness to her work here. Mathias (Ice Grill USA) also impressed me with his believable performance as Violet's love interest, and I was intrigued by the powerful on-screen chemistry which developed gradually between Ryman and Mathias in their scenes together.  

For me, one of the highlights in this dramedy involves a particular “performance art” presentation which still makes me chuckle when I think about it. And I appreciate the sometimes slow pace of the movie, which allowed us to get better acquainted with colorful characters like Violet’s artist friend Gabby (Hampton).  

Things I Don’t Understand comes across as a creative, thoughtful offering about the important things in life as well as what comes after.  It’s a worthy follow-up to Spaltro’s splendid first feature film, …Around.

(Released by Wandering/Cut; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base.

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