'100% Off': This romance is a bumpy ride but worth the journey
A review of "100% Off: A Recession-Era Romance," written and directed by local filmmaker Shaun Scott.
Seattle Times movie critic
'100% Off: A Recession-Era Romance,' with Matt Giampietro, Laurie Roberts, Stephanie Kim, Shaun Scott. Written and directed by Scott. 86 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Grand Illusion, through July 10.
Hang in there with local filmmaker Shaun Scott's "100% Off: A Recession-Era Romance": It's tricky going, particularly at first, but pays off.
Loosely, it's the tale of two young couples — Kyle (Matt Giampietro) and Rosa (Laurie Roberts), and Jean (Scott) and Jessie (Stephanie Kim) — coming to the end of their undergraduate years at the University of Washington, dealing with their relationships and their economically uncertain future. But the story's told as if through a kaleidoscope: shifting chronology, ever-switching visuals (grainy film contrasts with digital camerawork), bits and pieces coming together in time, eventually creating a more coherent whole.
Scott, in his first feature (he's previously made two documentaries), still needs to find his way with actors; the performances are often stilted, with the cast seeming to recite dialogue rather than engage in conversation. (At times Scott plays with the very idea of conversation, with the actors silent while we hear them speaking to each other in voice-over — a potentially interesting concept that doesn't really go anywhere.)
But there's much about this ambitious film that indicates a real creative gift; particularly the way Scott blends old and new. In one scene, Jessie rides a bus through a Seattle neighborhood, gazing out the window; we see houses as they are today and, in vintage footage, views from decades ago, as if she's traveling back in time. A charmingly scratchy 1922 song, "I'm in the Market For You," gives the film a Woody Allen-esque framing; black-and-white footage from a long-ago recession draws parallels, wordlessly and eloquently.
Eventually, "100% Off" comes together; we understand the logic behind the visual choices as the two couples' histories are filled in — even down to some endearing final endnotes for each character as Scott sends them on their way. It's a movie full of ideas and energy, some of which are better served than others, and it left me wanting to see what Scott does next. Like Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture" (also flawed but promising), it's not a final destination, but a stop in a potentially intriguing journey.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com