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New Release Review - A YEAR AND CHANGE

A drunken accident leads a middle-aged wastrel to reassess his life.


Review by Emily Craig (@emillycraig)

Directed by: Stephen Suettinger

Starring: Bryan Greenberg, Claire van der Boom, T.R. Knight, Jamie Chung


"A Year and Change is a stunning debut from Stephen Suettinger. It builds you up in a bubble of comfort and warmth and then hits you hard when you least expect it."



A Year and Change is the debut feature length film from Stephen Suettinger, who has previously only directed short films and worked in visual effects. The film is about middle aged screw up Owen (Bryan Greenberg), who binge drinks with his friends on weekends, is divorced and misses out on quality time with his young son Adam (Drew Shugart). While at a New Year’s Eve party, Owen finds himself on the roof of a house and falls off while completely wasted, ending up in a hospital on his own contemplating his life; we then hear Owen’s voiceover talking to an unknown character named Jen, which he continues to do so for the duration of the film. After this misfortunate incident, Owen vows to change his life around, starting with ditching the alcohol and trying to be a better father, which is helped when romantic interest, the recently divorced Vera (Claire van der Boom) comes along.
At the start of the film, Owen is completely unlikeable with almost no redeemable qualities; he lives alone in a huge house, neglects his son and starts drunken fights. As the story progresses we learn more about Owen’s family and personality, which brings the audience to sympathise and relate to his character. For me, it’s the moment when his cousin Victor (Marshall Allman) gets released from prison and he takes him under his wing that I began to see the real Owen blossom.
Bryan Greenberg really is a star in this film; not once did I feel like I’m watching a character in a movie. I felt as if I was just watching someone’s life unfold in a documentary - nothing ever seemed  forced. The supporting cast is also amazing, especially Marshall Allman and T.R Knight (who plays Owen’s other cousin, Kenny). The film is extremely natural and I applaud it for being effortlessly funny, touching and shocking all at the same time.
A Year and Change is marketed as a comedy, and don’t get me wrong – it is funny, but there are some extremely hard hitting scenes in the film, one of which had my jaw wide open with gasps, so don’t think that it’s going to be an easy watch. This is what I like about the film though, it builds you up in a bubble of comfort and warmth and then hits you hard when you least expect it. I cared deeply about the characters, I wanted the lead romance to happen and I can’t really think of anything the film could have done better. A Year and Change is a stunning debut from Suettinger accompanied by a stunning story; I’ll look forward to any future films he directs.
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