The world in which writer/director Matthew Packman's feature film Margo is set is, for the most part, left undefined. A female-driven, post-society world is painted yet Packman focuses on the intimate story contained within this universal theme. We are introduced to Libby, played with both a ferocious intensity and vulnerability by Lauren Schaubert, and her soulmate/confidante/lover, played by Brady Suedmeyer, as they work to survive in a world where fighting for survival is seemingly a relentless pursuit. When they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned house and discover some needed supplies, they at first rejoice before it's quickly revealed that they aren't alone. The conflict that follows leaves Libby alone, a vulnerable young woman who must discover a previously untapped layer of strength.
It isn't long until the film's title character, Margo (Abbey Hickey), enters the picture and becomes a fierce adversary for Libby. The conflict between the two adversaries is fierce yet remarkably brought to life in this film that builds its dramatic tension throughout the course of its 105-minute running time. Packman, who also lenses the film, is obviously a patient filmmaker who allows the film's atmosphere to envelope the viewer. He's cast the film perfectly to accomplish this task as Schaubert is a gem, fierce and vulnerable and introspective and absolutely revelatory by film's end. This may sound like an insult, but I found myself contemplating the Divergent series and wishing that Schaubert had replaced Woodley as Schaubert possesses those multiple layers that Tris so desperately needs.
But, I digress.
Margo captured the Best Feature and Best Screenplay prizes at Evansville, Indiana's recent MayDay Film Festival, a pretty solid indicator of the film's sparse yet impactful dialogue and remarkably effective action sequences. Films such as Margo are difficult to pull off even with studio backing, to do so successfully within the challenges of a low-budget indie is definitely an impressive achievement for Packman.
At the core of Margo is a rather aching story about the search for belonging and human connection. It's a story that plays out dramatically, yet what may be most surprising is how quiet and fundamental it all is. While there's no question that Schaubert is the driving force in the film, the rest of the ensemble cast performs quite ably and the film is one that stays with you long after the closing credits have rolled.
Weaving together an intelligent story with emotional authenticity and effective action, Margo will leave you thinking and leave you feeling as you play over and over in your mind both the little and big things that unfold in the film. It's the kind of film that you'll want to see again as it's the kind of film where you feel like there's something you missed.
Indeed, you have.
Early in its film festival run, Margo should have no problem continuing to experience success on the indie film festival circuit. If you get a chance, check it out.