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Arts and Entertainment

LAFF Review: Harmony & Me

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There was a belief a few years ago -- as cheap cameras and Final Cut Pro gained real traction within the filmmaking community -- that we were at the dawn of a cheap indie revolution. Affordability was going to allow new talent to finally be seen and recognized. In some cases that happened, but mostly this surge in access resulted in a colossal amount of dull movies. Thankfully, a micro-budget film still punches through occasionally and restores one's faith in the premise that you don't need a huge amount of money to make a good film.

Harmony & Me is just such a film. Ostensibly about a young man dealing with the end of a romantic relationship, it's a deliciously sharp and carefully observed study of people just like you and me in all of our various oddities. Singer Justin Rice of Bishop Allen is the Harmony of the title and as the film opens we find him struggling with the loss of his girlfriend, Jessica (Kristen Tucker). He believes that she left him because he's a loser. Understand, that's not his lack of self-esteem talking; she often referred to him as a loser.

A mutual friend hilariously points it out to him at the beginning of the film. It seems that Jessica would often go out of her way to call him a loser even when the situation didn't even call for it as in, "Yeah, I'm gonna go over and see The Loser". So Harmony is naturally a bit down. The fact that he has a crappy job -- what it is is never made clear, but it apparently involves routing computer cables -- doesn't help. Ordinarily, one might expect a young, heartbroken man to turn to his family, but Harmony's is really no help. They barely seem to like him.

And that's the whole movie. We basically just follow Harmony around to various events (work, piano lessons, a friend's house, his boss's funeral) and listen to him try to work out what went wrong with his life and his girlfriend. It sounds simple -- it is simple -- but it's never simplistic or boring. Every oddball in this film feels like an actual person. Hell, given the financial restrictions of an ultra-budget film maybe some of them are! Coupled with a script that's both daffy and spot-on, each one of these characters feels alive. Really alive.

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Of course, this is a movie so things can't just meander forever. A resolution is reached; Harmony finds his peace. But he finds it in a manner perfectly keeping with the film's surreal spirit (re: "surreal": rare is the film that has the line "he was a pedophile" spoken at a funeral, and the line is both correct and funny). Harmony & Me is short at 70 minutes, but that's probably the perfect time for a film as light as this. It leaves you wanting more of Harmony and the strange characters in his universe, which is high praise indeed.

Harmony & Me screens today at 4:30 pm and this Friday, June 26th at 7:15 pm. Both screenings are at The Regent. Tickets are available at the Los Angeles Film Festival website