Trash Fire Review


by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"


If you notice, in most films, anytime a character has to confront their past the film takes it to a place that makes it light-hearted, or make the viewer feel like everything is gonna be ok. I mean God forbid a film actually makes the audience feel uncomfortable. However, if there's a film to do just that, it's this one. And you know what? That's ok. This picture goes against type and that was such a breath of fresh air. Even through all of the cringing moments and scenes of tension, it was so enjoyable to watch. Writer/Director Richard Bates Jr found a beautiful balance between the drama and comedy. It's not an easy balance to manage, and many films have tried and have even come close to finding it, but always falling short. He has helmed a special character piece of what I feel is about a man named Owen, whose only way to move forward in his life, with the help of his girlfriend Isabel, is to confront the demons of his past that have come in the forms of his remaining immediate family members, his sister and his grandmother, and also deal with the soul crushing guilt of what had happened in his past.


The actors and actresses in this film were cast perfectly, as well as some returning faces who have already worked with Richard on his past films, Matthew Gray Gubler (Suburban Gothic) and Annalynne McCord (Excision), whom by which I had forgotten was in the film until the last 15 minutes when her face is revealed! I had to applaud that! It made me realize one thing about Annalynne, and that is she is a character actress. She is not afraid to change her appearance and even her vocals, and really just transform herself to become a character. She is not just another pretty face that has been on shows like 90210 and Nip/Tuck. She's done plenty of other films of course, but the two Richard Bates Jr films she's been in, she has played characters that changed her looks tremendously, and I love that.


What I love about the really dark humor in this film is how much comedy is used to translate the incredibly dark subject matter that happening to the character of Owen. I have been following the work of one Adrian Grenier for many years now and his skill as an actor has most certainly grown and never ceases to amaze me enough to keep drawing me into every role he's inhabited. The way Adrian plays Owen in this film as brutally candid is both entertaining as hell and at times made me deeply uncomfortable. And I relished every line of dialogue he delivered! The first time I ever saw Angela Trimbur was in the self referential slasher comedy Final Girls, a film I personally love and had so much fun watching. I thought she was fantastic in this picture though! She as Owen's girlfriend Isabel  is altogether sympathetic, endearing and simply tough as nails, which she would need to be to tolerate being in a relationship with someone like Owen. Someone who is so innately damaged to the core. But what I find so cool in the way Angela played her was that she kind of served as an anchor to keep Owen grounded anytime he begins to float off into not just his moments of self loathing but because of his self loathing, his need to burn bridges with people by being an asshole to everyone. Hate is a huge thing with Owen. He hates himself, and because he hates himself he hates other people. The only person he wants and needs in his life is Angela. And its own twisted way, that is where the story finds its romance. It wasn't until the end of the very last scene that made me break down and actually cry, which surprised me because through out the entire film you're either laughing or feeling incredibly uncomfortable,  at the sheer tragedy of it all and how it turned out. Trash Fire is a searing dramedy with its dark horrifying overtones, examines family dysfunction in a way that not many people know that extent of but are given a glimpse into. And it's one of my favorite films. Check it out NOW on Netflix!


Writer/Director: Richard Bates Jr.
Starring: Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, Fionnula Flanagan, Sally Kirkland, Annalynne McCord, Matthew Gray Gubler 
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Horror/Romance
Country/Language: USA/English
Year: 2016
How To See It: Netflix/VOD/DVD

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