Watching indie movies is a mixed bag, but it can be worth the effort. Sure, you might end up with unprofessional Z movies that fall into the worst-ranked of all time, but you can also find some diamonds in the rough.
Some are amateur yet amusing films while others are outright works of art. In my exploration into the further reaches of independent film, I found one that falls solidly in the realm of “enjoyable” and “amusing.”
Ann Rolls Green is an independent film by Raspberry Films, a UK company founded film studio. Set in a small town, it focuses on the tale of Ann, the frustrating associates around her, and their ridiculous hijinks.
Ann is a young woman working at a furniture store with a lazy, self-centered co-worker, Jane. When Ann’s cousin, Denny, finds her previously missing boyfriend, Frank, she begrudgingly agrees to join him.
Unfortunately, Denny and his friend Stuart are members of the “Order of the Holy Redeemers,” a delusional club they created to stop the end of the world. They drag Ann and Jane, on a ridiculous attempt to capture Frank, who believes he’s the second coming of Jesus, ushering in the end times.
What follows is a mix of funny comedy, biting commentary, somber moments, and just a tad bit of strangeness.
I won’t lie, there is an amateur level to this film that those with more refined tastes probably won’t enjoy. Much of the movie appears to be shot using personal camcorders, the sound quality is inconsistent (and even off-sync in one scene), and some of the editing is questionable. I feel, however, that this added a down-to-earth charm that I’ve always enjoyed in indie films.
Similarly, some of the performances have a “community theater” vibe to them, ranging from flat expressions and delivery to overacting certain lines. This criticism isn’t consistent, however, as there are moments where the performers deliver, particularly in the funniest scenes.
Ms. Reese (Ann) has a bit of a young Emma Watson vibe, with a touch overemphasis on her delivery but also excellent performance as an exacerbated individual surrounded by idiots. Similarly, while Mr. Barnes’ (Denny) expressions leave a little to be desired, his back-and-forth with the others is well-timed and had me chuckling.
Ms. Broomfield (Jane) started a little annoying, but her performance grew on me, and her consistent boredom and laissez-faire attitude worked for the character. Mr. Godden (Stuart), however, was amusing from the start, and even though his storyline was a bit of a downer, his chemistry with the others was perfect.
What sold me on this film, to the point I recommended it to others, was that it was far more amusing than I expected. An opening scene of Ann belittling a man handing out religious pamphlets, and the size of Jesus on the cover, had me ready for more.
There’s plenty where that came from, with great comedy between the cast and some excellent writing. I think that’s one reason this film stands out from other low-budget indie movies – George Perry‘s script had me laughing, and some of the ridiculous scenes were just the right level of wackiness.
It’s a shame that there’s a little too much filler scenes, often of people walking over the rolling countryside, that detract from the moments between the actors. If they’d been trimmed down, this movie almost reminds me of Kevin Smith’s Clerks in terms of its comedy and wit.
I have the feeling, however, that this film may grow on people with further viewings, like Napoleon Dynamite. Some funny, nonsensical moments reminded me of that film, and with a little more production value put in, I think Raspberry Films and its cast could grow to be a UK rival.
Ann Rolls Green was a delightful independent film that, despite low production value and some inconsistencies, had a great script, good banter between performers, and was an enjoyable experience overall. If you’re willing to give it a chance, I think this film is an excellent choice for a night in, and I have high hopes for the Raspberry Films team.
4 wristbands out of 5.