When it’s man-against-man, an underdog is pitted against a larger, stronger force. Working against the odds, this underdog may use any combination of physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual aptitude to defeat his or her opponent. What about the even more difficult to depict (and to understand) conflict of man against himself? This internal struggle is fully explored in the independent film, Finding Neighbors, a narrative feature film written and directed by Ron Judkins and appearing in its Southeast Premiere at Florida Film Festival 2014.
A Current State of Near Irrelevance
Oscar nominee Michael O’Keefe stars as Sam Tucker, a paunchy middle-aged graphic novelist enduring insomnia, a mid-life crisis, writer’s block, and marital dissatisfaction. Formerly famous, popular, and rich Sam has trouble adjusting to his current status of near irrelevance. His therapist wife (Catherine Dent in an extraordinary performance) offers love, compassion, and ready-made counseling sessions, yet can’t quite connect with him.
Sams’s attractive and promiscuous neighbor (Julie Mond), Sherrie, has her own set of self-destructive problems, and, Jeff (Blake Bashoff), his gay “housewife” neighbor on the other side, reaches out to Sam for advice on his personal struggles, as well. An unexpected road trip brings Sam, Jeff, and Sherrie together for an awkward adventure that serves as a catalyst for healing.
Crises Behind Closed Doors
On the surface, these characters live in an outwardly maintained, beautifully landscaped neighborhood that belies the crises going on within individual homes. The sprinklers routinely nurture the grass. The lawn service workers tend to the gardens. Yet, behind closed doors, each neighbor is stuck in an uncomfortable situation. Thoroughly repressed, Sam’s inner conflicts tend to be shown onscreen as graphic illustrations, the form of expression with which he is most comfortable.
Therein lies the strength of Finding Neighbors. Unlike most films, which spotlight ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, these are slightly better-than-ordinary people with brains, looks, and/or talent struggling to adapt to or escape from the discomfort of their ordinary lives. It’s both painful and pleasurable to watch them learn to actively create their own experiences, accept love wherever it comes from, and bravely embrace an inspired act.
- A middle-aged graphic novelist lacks inspiration in his work and marriage, but finds what he’s looking for by connecting with a neighbor in an unlikely relationship
- Starring Michael O’Keefe, Catherine Dent, Blake Bashoff, Julie Mond, Sean Patrick Thomas, Mike Genovese
- Writer-Director: Ron Judkins
- Genre: Comedy/Drama
- Run Time: 96 minutes
- Southeast Premiere at 2014 Florida Film Festival