East of Sunset (2005) (RePost from the old Ryan’s Reviews site)

Description (from the box):

In this angst-ridden tale set in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles, Carley lives a life of pills, dive bars and uncommitted sexual encounters. When she meets up with Jim, an artist with “recreational” heroin issues, she is forced to face her avoidance of intimacy and her own drug use. Recent recordings by various artists of songs written by Tom Waits in the 1970s and early 1980s comprise the entire musical score of the film.

Major Cast: Emily Stiles as Carley, Jimmy Wayne Farley as Jim, Dikla Marshall as Ella, George Garritano as Alan

Special Features: 5.1 audio mix, Director’s Commentary, Music Video [the] caseworker’s “Old Shoes”, Soundtrack CD Included

directed by Brian McNelis

written by Heather Miller

DVD by Eclectic DVD Distribution

This was a really heavy film. Sad, and heavy.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me get into East of Sunset. This indy film has a lot going for it. The acting is superb for a low budget film, and both of the leads shine. The emotion that Brian McNelis has pulled out of both Stiles and Farley reads on the screen, and resonates within this viewer. The sound quality is also above par; both the dialogue and the music are crisp and clear. My only issue on the production side was the fact that the film appears as digital video. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problems with DV, but it does make any film feel cheaper.

“Silver Lake Drugs” in neon appears over Carley’s shoulder on the poster of East of Sunset. It’s the only text, apart form the title, that can be read on the cover of the DVD. Consider that your warning. While this film is unrated, it would certainly be “R,” and a major reason for that rating would be the rampant drug use portrayed in this film (along with the language and nudity.) Carley pops pills like tic tacs, smokes pot every day, and drinks. Carley drinks a lot. Jim also has his vices – bourbon and heroin being the two biggest.

East of Sunset is a very well made, well acted film, filled with characters I really wanted to like… but couldn’t. Jim I had the most sympathy for, but I’m not sure I liked him. Ella was nice, but not a central enough character to get attached to. Otherwise there was Carley, and she has some PROBLEMS. She’s got some obsessive ness, thrown in with a big addiction, major intimacy issues, and really she just isn’t that nice of a person. She shows that she can grow, that she could mature as a character, during her most intimate times with Jim, but the end made me wonder if she had learned anything at all.

Overall, I felt that East of Sunset was a really good downer movie. The characters are well written, and their dialogue is often witty and repeatable. The music was good, and I look forward to hearing more on the included soundtrack CD. For fans of Tom Waits, there is the extra appeal that all of the songs on the soundtrack were originally performed by Waits, but are re-interpreted by various bands on the CD. East of Sunset is a movie I’d recommend to friends looking for something heavy and dark. I wouldn’t suggest this title to anyone with problems with coarse language, nudity, or drug use, because this film contains its fair share of all three.

Overall 8.5 / 10

East of Sunset on the imdb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402064/

East of Sunset for sale on Amazon: http://www.amazon.
com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009Y26OU/qid=1120955915/sr=11-1/ref=sr_11_1/102-1374444-5116109

East of Sunset site: http://eastofsunset.com/

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