×

A Little Closer

A single mom negotiates the shores of loneliness while her adolescent sons discover their sexual urges in Matthew Petock's unpretentious debut "A Little Closer."

With:
With: Sayra Player, Parker Lutz, Eric Baskerville, Chris Kies, Catherine Andre, Stephanie Parrott, Natalie Racoosin, Rolland Colella, CJ Doss, Ryan Lyle, Peter Dempsy, Douglas Nelson.

A single mom negotiates the shores of loneliness while her adolescent sons discover their sexual urges in Matthew Petock’s unpretentious debut, “A Little Closer.” Solidly made with a minuscule budget whose limitations are ably overcome, the pic is obviously made from the heart, covering well-worn themes with more honesty than originality, generating a deja-vu feel that rarely diminishes. Perhaps best seen as a sort of well-done thesis film which proves the young helmer’s capabilities, “A Little Closer” is likely to see more traffic over streaming sites than in cinemas, though smaller fests may offer a welcome.

Petock sets his story in rural Virginia, the kind of place where connections between strangers are limited. Sheryl (Sayra Player) tries hard to make ends meet as a house cleaner, struggling to afford a home she knows will never meet even her most modest desires. Between work and raising two sons on her own, she barely has time for herself, though her yearning for companionship leads her to try out a depressingly bleak community mixer each week.

Older son Marc (Parker Lutz), 15, works a summer job at a car lot where an older colleague gives him tips on how to get a girl into bed. Meanwhile, 11-year-old brother Stephen (Eric Baskerville) is at summer school, since Sayra can’t afford any other option to keep him busy. Both boys are coping with chaos-inducing hormones: Marc gets a g.f. (Catherine Andre) who he pressures into “proving she loves him,” and Stephen has a crush on teacher Ms. Moss (Stephanie Parrott).

Petock and his flawless cast get everything right: Sheryl’s nervous ticks while hoping for a decent-looking guy to ask her to dance, her exhaustion from bearing so much responsibility alone, and her frazzled but loving rapport with her kids. The boys are age-appropriate, with Marc completely in thrall to his testosterone while younger Stephen is on the cusp between innocence and knowledge. Dialogue is real, situations are believable, and the pic nicely captures the circumscribed options available to nontraditional families in this kind of community.

A few scenes are memorable, foremost a series of extended closeups of Sayra dancing with a guy (Chris Kies) she meets at the mixer. The tight shots and Player’s complex emotions, all stemming from the overwhelming sensation of being held close, baldly convey her loneliness and need for physical contact. Despite other nice moments, there’s just not enough here to make the pic stand out from other sincere slice-of-life indie productions. Modesty is no fault, yet in a crowded market, viewers are likely to demand more than a mirror of reality.

Visuals are sharp, benefiting from confident handheld lensing by Daniel Patrick Carbone and a proper appreciation for natural light. Editing, too, also by Petock, is sure-handed, nicely overlaying conversations onto silent montages.

Popular on Variety

A Little Closer

Production: A Little Closer, Armian Pictures production. Produced by Matthew Petock, Rachael Kliman. Executive producers, Neda Armian, Pascal Levensohn. Co-producers Holly Clarke, Zachary Shedd. Directed, written by Matthew Petock.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Daniel Patrick Carbone; editors, Petock, Anthony Ripoli; production designer, Holly Clarke; costume designer, Lauren Edelstein; sound (Dolby Surround), Gillian Arthur, Christopher Foster; associate producer, Allison Niedermeier; assistant director, Zachary Shedd; casting, Henry Jaderlund, Atley Loughridge. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Bright Future), Jan. 28, 2011. Running time: 72 MIN.

With: With: Sayra Player, Parker Lutz, Eric Baskerville, Chris Kies, Catherine Andre, Stephanie Parrott, Natalie Racoosin, Rolland Colella, CJ Doss, Ryan Lyle, Peter Dempsy, Douglas Nelson.

More Film

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content