For even the most talented of writers, autobiography can present perilous traps.
Few people’s lives can be condensed into a neat story arc that merits an audience’s attention for 105 minutes. Moreover, few people have the sense of perspective to discern what about their own lives is so compelling.
Writer-director Todd Verow has a decent starting point in his latest autobiographical feature, Between Something and Nothing, which tells the story of a freshman art student Joe (Tim Swain) who develops a relationship with a mysterious hustler Ramon (Gil Bar-Sela), and is pulled into the world of hustling himself.
The major problem should be evident from the plot summary on the back of the box. It rambles about outlandish art school assignments and the main character “exploring his darker side,” and ends with, “It seems that there is nothing better than hot sex and working the streets for money to bring out the true artist in Joe.”
So where’s the conflict?
In the rambling and stream-of-consciousness narrative, it’s never clear what Swain wants, what’s in his way, or what his problem is. It’s just a series of events that I’m sure were very meaningful when Verow lived them but add up to not very much at all for a viewer.
Technically, the film is amateur at best.
Among the actors, the sole bright spots are Swain and Bar-Sela who do their best with terrible material, although the less said about Swain’s too on-the-nose narration the better.
For a film set in an art school, Verow regrettably skimps on set decoration, giving us a world that alternates between dark alleys and white classrooms.
The cinematography also lacks any of the adventurism —or even technique —one would expect of a film about art school.
It’s not a film that’s completely without merit, but it’s not a terribly good film either.