×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pursuit of Loneliness

Documentary-styled down to the casting of primarily non-pro actors in their own workplace roles, "Pursuit of Loneliness" pays dispassionate attention to concerns most people prefer not to think about until forced: preparing for death, and its bureaucratic aftermath.

With:
With: Joy Hille, Sandra Esalante, Sharon Munfus, Kirsi Toivanen, Natalie Fouron, Monique Flores, Suzanne Faha, John Magginetti, Jim Ratsch, Jose Jauregui, Craig Henderson, Ward Heid.

Documentary-styled down to the casting of primarily non-pro actors in their own workplace roles, “Pursuit of Loneliness” pays dispassionate attention to concerns most people prefer not to think about until forced: preparing for death, and its bureaucratic aftermath. Scrupulously neutral and naturalistic, but still involving, Laurence Thrush’s second feature is probably too stark for most commercial avenues. Still, it should do well on the fest circuit while attracting more adventurous artscasters and DVD/download distribs.

It takes a while to realize the lady we first see walking two small dogs in a park is Cynthia (Joy Hille), an elderly Los Angeleno found dead in her hospital bed by a shaken young ultrasound technician. It takes even longer to realize that “Pursuit” tells one story in two parallel strands, the first of which gradually reveals loner Cynthia’s last days, living alone in a house alarmingly cluttered with evidence of her hoarding and TV shopping-network addictions. A second, more dominant thread charts the actions required by hospital procedure and public law after her demise. These are complicated by the fact that Cynthia has passed on without an apparent will, surviving relatives or even neighbors who knew her as more than a nodding acquaintance.

What could easily have been a dull or maudlin slog instead becomes a barely fictionalized portrait of people at work in unheralded jobs. All are thoroughly professional, most pleasant, a couple strictly by-the-book. Much specialized labor is required to settle Cynthia’s worldly affairs, from the chief shift nurse who officially records her passing to the animal-services worker picking up her dogs.

It falls to no-nonsense public administrator’s office rep Joni (Suzanne Faha) to begin the arduous task of taking inventory in the shuttered home, cataloguing clothes with the pricetags still on and 35-year-old prescription bottles so the residence can be cleared for future habitation (or demolition). Just as this life’s loose ends appear to be tying up — inasmuch as the authorities can manage — the pic returns to previously introduced figure Mr. Bennett (John Magginetti), who is similarly without close friends or family as Alzheimer’s forces him reluctantly from a hospital bed to a convalescent home.

Thrush, whose Japanese-language feature “Left Handed” dealt with another socially isolated protagonist (a teenage boy who refuses to leave his bedroom for two years), has a good eye and a sure feel for workplace routine. There’s scarcely a moment that feels acted, and while the pic does bog down a bit toward the end, its nonjudgmental, detached yet empathetic progress holds interest more than one might expect. Nonetheless, some viewers will inevitably find the black-and-white feature excessively restrained and undramatic.

Apart from a few too many lingering back-of-the-head shots, assembly is both unobtrusive and carefully thought through, with William Basinski’s score the most emotionally assertive contribution.

Pursuit of Loneliness

U.S.-Canada

Production: A Growth Films presentation. Produced by Ken Hanada. Directed, written by Laurence Thrush.

Crew: Camera (B&W, HD), Gary Young; editor, Olaf Harris; music, William Basinski; production designer, Diane Kami; sound, Vincent Fatato; sound designer, Eric Ryan. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Next), Jan. 25, 2012. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Joy Hille, Sandra Esalante, Sharon Munfus, Kirsi Toivanen, Natalie Fouron, Monique Flores, Suzanne Faha, John Magginetti, Jim Ratsch, Jose Jauregui, Craig Henderson, Ward Heid.

More Film

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content