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First Look Review - LITTLE PIECES

The struggles of two young men in their personal relationships.


Review by James McAllister

Directed by : Adam Nelson

Starring: Finnian Nainby-Luxmore, Matthew William Jones, Graham Cawte, Isabelle Glinn



"For the most part, Little Pieces cuts the figure of a film trying too hard to be something it’s not. Much of the story is a jumbled up mess that aims towards the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, but misses the mark by some distance."


It almost seems unfair to critically condemn Little Pieces, the debut feature from independent British director Adam Nelson. After all, the showcasing of great ambition by a first-time filmmaker, diligently displayed by Nelson here, is something to be applauded whenever possible.
The problem, however, is that Little Pieces isn’t a film that’s particularly praiseworthy. Told through a non-linear narrative, the story intertwines the tales of Michael (Finnian Nainby-Luxmore) and Eric (Matthew William Jones). The former is struggling to hold down a relationship with his new girlfriend Cheryl (Isabelle Glinn), while the latter is being driven to despair by the behavior of his alcoholic father (Graham Cawte).
There’s a superb moment, about halfway through the film, in which Cheryl and Michael are allowed a quiet moment of intimacy with each other whilst skating together on an ice rink. Complimented by Imraan Husain’s sensitive score, it’s a sequence as graceful and enchanting as a routine by Torvill and Dean. Nelson’s camera glides gently over the ice, the director drawing out the emotions of his characters through actions in a way that’s simple but effective.
For the most part though, Little Pieces cuts the figure of a film trying too hard to be something it’s not. Befitting its fragmented structure, much of the story is a jumbled up mess that aims towards the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, but misses the mark by some distance. The screenplay, written by Nelson, is weighed down by turgid and tiresome attempts to try and deal with serious issues. And there’s an insurmountable amount of clunky dialogue to boot.
From the beginning it’s clear that this scruffy script is one that’s in desperate need of a polish. But that could very well be a criticism that applies to the film as a whole. The editing is rudimentary at best, and in places rather rough. During certain exterior sequences, for example, it appears as if the dialogue has been recorded in a studio and dubbed over the images.
The performances, meanwhile, mainly range from bad to bizarre. Though Finnian Nainby-Luxmore stands out thanks to few nicely nuanced moments, Isabelle Glinn and Graham Cawte both unfortunately lack any sort of conviction and fail to make a mark, while Peter Oliver and Matthew William Jones go down the alternate route of overacting to the point of amateur dramatic absurdity.
As easy as they are to criticise though, all the performances remain dedicated to the end, as does Nelson’s direction. In the future, he may well be able to mould himself into a filmmaker with great promise. But, unfortunately, Little Pieces is unlikely to give him the jump-start he needs.




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