There have been many films about addiction and the cost of drug abuse. When this subject is brought up, movies such as Clean and Sober, Trainspotting, and The Basketball Diaries immediately come to mind. Today’s film takes the subject from a new perspective, providing a unique story that comes from the heart. I present to you, Hard Surfaces.
Adrian Jacobs has become a renowned photographer due to his unique images of drug addiction. However, his professional life collides with his personal life when his sister dies leaving him as the guardian for her 9 year old daughter. Can Adrian find a balance between his drug infused world and his new responsibilities?
From writer/director Zach Brown and North of Two, Starring Shawn Pyfrom, Julia Voth, Sophie Kargman, Chase Fein, Hannah Victoria Stock and director Zach Brown himself, this film is a powerful view into addiction and responsibility.
This is a story about tough decisions, about facing not only personal demons but finding a way to allow others in your life while facing these challenges.
While the plot is fairly predictable from the beginning this film provides a fresh take on the subject of substance abuse and the effects it can have on everyone involved. From the beginning, Adrian surrounds himself with drug abuse, it is not only his livelihood, known for taking photos of addiction, but it is also his personal vice. Even though he is surrounded by the results of bad choices, he can not seem to recognize those bad decisions in himself. After losing someone important to him, he begins to realize that his life is no longer his own. It is through this realization that Adrian begins to find his way but his path is not an easy one.
Even though the film focuses on Adrian’s drug habits the real story is in the subtleties. At it’s core, this film is about finding the strength to shoulder the responsibilities that life throws at you, no matter how difficult those responsibilities are. Sometimes something so important comes along that you have to take stock of your life and decide if you are strong enough to bare the weight of this new path. It is here that filmmaker Zach Brown really shows his talents by making this subtle truth the overarching tale in a Hard Surfaces without ever coming across sanctimoniously. Without realizing it, Zach makes you consider what you would do if faced with these choices as you watch Adrian deal with the joy and pain his decisions in life bring him.
With this film, First time feature film writer director Zach Brown proves that he knows his way around a script and a camera. To say this film is a masterpiece may be going too far but it certainly showcases his obvious top tier talent. Not only does he have a wonderful eye for meaningful shots but he has the uncanny ability to pull out the best performances from his relatively young cast. His work in addition to the great cinematography by Noel Maitland and editing by Patrick Bellanger, gives Hard Surfaces a quality that is not often seen in independent films.
Everyone in the film does a tremendous job in their roles providing an utterly convincing world for the story to take place in. Leading man Shawn Pyfrom (known for his work on Desperate Housewives) is outstanding as Adrian Jacobs, throughout the film his struggles seem genuine and from the start he is completely believable as the drug addicted photographer. Additionally, Julia Voth, who plays Adrian’s embittered girlfriend, does such a great job that you actually find her character to be selfish and frustrating at times. While she is no stranger to film, her performance give this story a certain gravitas that would be lacking without her.
I was particularly impressed with the supporting roles that child actor Hannah Victoria Stock (Maddy) and that of Chase Fein, as Adrian’s friend Steve, play. Through their genuinely convincing and flawless performances, you really get a chance to see Adrian for who he really is and the man he could be, giving his character a chance for the redemption that he so desperately needs while also giving him the drive to come to terms with his drug habits.
The one weak point in the story is in the the character of Sophie Moreno, a social worker played by Sophie Kargman. While Kargman does a wonderful job in her role, it was very unclear what exactly her relationship with Adrian was at any given moment. Sometimes seeming like a possible new girlfriend and other times as an overly caring social worker, her part seemed to have not been fleshed out enough. I got the distinct feeling that there may have been a romantic subplot that wound up on the cutting room floor and I would be interested to see if that was the case and, if that missing part would have clarified matters. That being said, even the best films miss a few beats and this minor nit takes nothing away from the overall story.
Rounding out the excellent production and cast is the tremendous soundtrack provided by a collection of lesser known artists. The film itself seems to be a personal story for director Zach Brown and the music really highlights this point. Composer Ryan Rapsys manages to build a tremendous soundtrack coupled with performers such as Owen, Neonderthal, Sur Chevvie and Mothxr. Each track weaves perfectly in and out of each moment leaving you wanting more from these artists. The track that really surprised me was the end credits song and, after reaching out to the Director, I learned it was the work of artist Brandon Mcculloch entitled Warmest Dreams. This tune captures the tone of the film perfectly with a gorgeous acoustic performance that puts the cap on an already incredible film.
The Bottom Line
This is a terrific film through and through. I normally do not find myself watching dramas, preferring Science Fiction or Horror, but I was truly impressed with every moment of this film. Full of heart and obvious care, it is well deserving of it’s multiple independent film awards it has received. I look forward to more from director Zach Brown and all of the tremendous cast and crew that were brought together to make Hard Surfaces.
As is tradition, here is the trailer.
Late To The Game 3/23/2019
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode. Also, please check out our interview with actor Patrick Kilpatrick!
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