Friendship is a subject explored in movies pretty extensively. Togetherness and bonding are the touchstones of many film stories. Large groups especially like those in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire provide for some of the more memorable friendship sagas. The latest dramedy Beside Still Waters is a perfect example of this and while it shares many of the themes and tropes of friendship films before it, it does contain a few original ideas and some really great performances, making it one of the better indies out there today.
Daniel’s (Ryan Eggold) parents have just died in a car crash. He’s about to sell their summer house but before he does that, he decides to have a weekend memorial get together with his childhood friends. This motley crew consists of reality TV star James (Brett Dalton), perpetual slacker Tom (Beck Bennet), cute married couple Martin (Will Brill) and Abby (Erin Darke), free spirit Charley (Jessy Hodges), ex-girlfriend Olivia (Britt Lower) and her fiancé Henry (Reid Scott). With this random group of people under the same roof with the addition of plenty of booze, they all embark on a weekend full of fun, honesty and hooking up. It’s the morning after when they realize that some of their decisions of the night might not have been the best ones.
With his nostalgic dreams somewhat fulfilled, Daniel’s goal for the weekend was to get closer to his friends including his newly engaged ex-girlfriend. Things get awkward to say the least and with eight very different people in the same house for the weekend, craziness ensues and mistakes are made. Each character brings something different to the table and the interactions they have with one another are really fun to watch. The acting isn’t great but the chemistry is damn near perfect.
With a strong and capable cast in Beside Still Waters, the ideal ingredient needed to complete this cinematic stew is a solid script and writer/director Chris Howell and fellow scribe Mohit Narang have crafted a screenplay that is not only funny but smart, quick and at times, rather heartfelt. Each of the eight cast members delivers their lines beautifully and like I said before, their chemistry is what really sells it. Each personality meshes and clashes with one another and the inclusion of alcohol merely enhances the insanity.
Not only are the actors in Beside Still Waters attractive but so is the location. Shot in a remote rural area on a lake in Michigan, the film’s visuals are pleasing to say the least. They serve as the perfect setting for this fun group to argue, frolic and share intimate moments. Though a low budget film, Beside Still Waters feels like a big budget production. The actors exude confidence and are all funny in their own way. The conflict between Daniel and Olivia serves as the film’s primary source of tension and though at times, a bit forced, it anchors the film adequately. The real draw, however, would have to be how everyone interacts with one another and with a brisk pace, this cute little indie is one of the better dramedies as of late.