With his third low-budget feature film, Simon Fraser University student and Calgary DIY filmmaker Brendan Prost has created his most intimate and satisfying production yet with Spaces and Reservations, a thought-provoking and contemplative film about a young couple, Jamie (Zach White) and Kacie (Taylor Hastings), who have been dating for four years but are starting to feel as if they are disconnected and drifting apart.
As their disconnect deepens, Jamie begins to develop feelings for another woman. While he flirts with infidelity, he decides to work towards salvaging his relationship with Kacie. Perhaps not surprisingly, when he does so he learns that Kacie has similarly developed feelings for another man. Realizing that she's been experiencing that same sense of isolation, Jamie encourages Kacie to explore this newfound interest and to pursue what makes her happy only to realize that his feeling of disconnect wasn't nearly as strong as he'd believed.
Spaces and Reservations is ultimately about the impact of malaise and infidelity on a relationship and how, in a way, that which pulls us apart can also bring us back together.
The film features Choch star Zach White and newcomer Taylor Hastings in performances best described as transparent and vulnerable as they portray both individuals and the collective that they once were and could, at least potentially, be once again. Spaces and Reservations is, indeed, quite the film of spaces and reservations as Prost seems far less concerned with making a market friendly film and far more concerned with creating a film with characters who feel alive and vibrant and honest. Jamie and Kacie feel like a couple, but they also feel like a couple with genuine issues and heartbreaks and vulnerabilities and hopes and dreams.
Prost doesn't play this story for its inherent drama, but instead it feels like he's created a film where we, the audience, are the best friends accompanying the ups and downs of an up-and-down relationship.
In what seems to be a core ingredient in Prost's artistic expressions, Spaces and Reservations centers around people who are broken yet luminous and spiraling downward yet infinitely hopeful.
What can I say? It works.
As he did in Choch, Zach White gives a performance that truly soars despite the relative quiet of his more introspective character this time around. White at times gives off a Michael Cera vibe here (I swear that's a compliment), a vibe that sort of says "I'm essentially a good guy even when I'm a completely fucked up guy." While these introspective, self-exploratory kinds of characters can be maddeningly self-indulgent, White magnificently makes us absolutely adore this guy even amidst the multiple layers of his humanity that unfold here.
The same is true for newcomer Taylor Hastings, whose performance as Kacie is measured and revealing and occasionally a true heart-tugger. It's a tremendous performance and it'll be a joy to see where the young actress goes from here. While White and Hastings are clearly the leads here, enough can't be said positive about the entirety of Prost's ensemble cast.
Spaces and Reservations is beautifully photographed by both Prost and Jeremy Cox in a way that fosters both intimacy and distance and all the varying layers that we endure within our relationships, while Drew Redman's sparse yet intimate musical score serves as a perfect accompaniment for the film.
Spaces and Reservations has only recently been completed and will be heading out on a Canadian tour come Spring 2014 with stops planned for Vancouter, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. It should be noted that the film comes in at a lengthy 2+ hours in length, but Prost uses the time wisely and creates maximum impact by allowing his characters the time they need to think, feel, process, imagine, dream and simply breathe.
For more information on the film, be sure to check out its website linked to in the credits on the left.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic