CANNES–“Galaxies Are Colliding” is a strung-out short that just about makes it over the 90-minute finish line through sheer technique. Offbeat satire about a West Coaster flipping his lid in the Mojave desert could score a hit with festival auds but won’t make much of a dent theatrically.
First feature by John Ryman, made with coin from Torontobased SC Entertainment, opens with Adam (Dwier Brown) in tux and shades walking zombie-like through sunblasted Southwest scrubland.
Face-to-camera interviews with relatives tell how he deserted fiancee Beth (Susan Walters) on their wedding day and was supposedly zapped by the Air Force after driving into a practice zone.
While everyone in L.A. thinks he’s dead, Adam comes across a collection of weirdos who use him as a sounding board. First up is a loony impressionist; then in a roadside diner he meets Margo (Karen Medak), an Eastern European babe sleeping her way west to Hollywood. She’s the one who finally makes him reconnect with reality.
Ryman’s script vaults over the problem of having a largely silent central character by also including flashbacks to the beginnings of his withdrawal and to his engagement with g.f. Beth.
Comedy here is decidedly off-the-wall: while Beth is choosing color schemes for their future abode, Adam is dreaming about soil erosion in Africa and the coming apocalypse.
On that basis, the movie is simply a farther-out take on late 20th century Yank obsessions–sex, “relationships,” the “death” of U.S. culture, and the generally messed-up planet.
Ryman comes up with cute conundra like “Why does pain hurt?” and “What happens to a symphony when the orchestra stops playing?” That’s mildly amusing for a while but, like the central character, the script keeps going around in ever-decreasing circles that lead no place special.
Still, Ryman’s neat and balanced compositions, with sharp on-location lensing and unfussy editing, impose a sense of order that almost convinces the movie is more significant than it is.
A busy soundtrack of country-western, sendups of radio broadcasts, plus classical lollipops (notably Dvorak’s “From the New World” symph) further engages the attentions.
Performances are fine within the confines of the material, with Medak’s tour de force as the ditzy Margo livening up the second half.