“Arcadia” is a refreshing venture into what good first time full length feature filmmaking can be. Learning the process of making this film made the actual film all the more enjoyable. Writer and director Andy J Hall comprised the film of mostly theatre and non film actors who have a passion for the arts keeping the vibe and feel organic and at times surreal. The cinematography is quite lovely with every frame shot and edited with purpose.
The story itself is a “find yourself” journey built around leaving the conventional world behind, diving head first into a hidden world suspended in time and making the choice to stay or go back to where you came from.
There is a lot to be said for the overall concept and direction this film goes. There are pleasant twists and turns that seem to lead to a conclusion but then shifts to another, keeping the audience on its toes. A journalist (Yang) stumbles upon a map that leads to an undiscovered society. His agency then proposes to post a story about it and wants him to find where the map leads. Watching his reactions as he stumbles through dark tunnels of water is a comedic highlight of the film and his natural sense of wonderment throughout is the main standout here as are some great performances throughout. Everyone in this production is sincere in every scene. An interesting thing to note is that the society the main character finds is like stepping into an art house frenzy full of acrobatics and a bohemian atmosphere. They delve into card readings and a kind of natural mysticism as their school and, at times, seem as if they are on acid or mind altering drugs, but in reality they are just high on life. I did notice that these cellar dwellers do not favor sunshine and stay reclusive within underground caves and even a theater. They do have a sense of mild evilness to how they decorate yet still stay in fashion.
One could say this is an art house film. The premise that true art culture has been lost and, to find it, one has to leave what they know to search deeper is the underlining theme. Our main character’s choice by films end leaves the question once again of one’s own decision to remain in what one knows or begin a new life. Without revealing his decision, lets just say that there is a beautiful muse type that gets his attention (Love Lass).
The majority of actors chosen here have great intent and the director does his best to make them look their best, even if its clear some have not had much experience with how to phrase lines or pacing for film. That said, the entire production still feels organic and natural which is welcomed. I could see this film as a big budget epic and the writer and director have enormous potential to make this a classic indie film. On its own, this is one of the better kind of mystery/sci – fi indie films we have reviewed. The overall style and pace of “Arcadia” is almost in a kind of “Kubrick” direction with odd stares, dramatic pauses and use of light and dark tones. The actual camera work and editing is spot on and compliments the tone well, giving the message and spirit of the film the punch it requires. It is worth seeing, even if some scenes carry a bit past their usefulness. This is a true director’s cut of ones full vision and no stone is left unturned. It is also worthy to note that no nudity or gross deaths were used though, at moments, you were expecting it to go there. Instead, this could be a film all ages could learn from as the main point was to showcase artistic and inner freedom in a world that does not accept this as normal.
Visit www.zeteticstudios.com for more info on the film’s news and showings.