2018 Dances With Films Festival
With the neo rom com Save Yourself (2018), prolific filmmaker Allen C. Gardner [(Being Awesome (2014)] breathes new life into a genre pronounced dead by the LA Weekly a few years ago. Up for a challenge, he’s been biding his time waiting for the right moment.
Jason (Gardner) and Amy (Kelsey Gunn) are at that awkward age, well into young adulthood but still single. Fresh from break-ups, they “meet cute” at a party. Jason takes a baby step, starting a conversation about (guess what?) relationships. It’s a dialogue, sometimes uncomfortable yet always revealing, that continues, in fits and starts and changes of scenery, for another seventy entertaining minutes.
As their discussion becomes more intense and intimate, they outwardly maintain the ironic detachment their generation is known for. Fair complexioned with dark hair and piercing eyes, Gunn is especially good at projecting that exterior coolness. It’s a defense mechanism Jason sees through but can’t get past. He’s a big lug, charming and sincere, different from the rock singer Amy’s been dating, in a good way. The adage “be yourself” doesn’t always work but could be the ticket this time.
Filmed in Los Angeles, there’s a shout out to Mar Vista and other lesser known parts of the city, some of which appear in great looking exterior shots. Director of photography Drew Paslay is a frequent collaborator with Gardner and producer Gabe Arredondo’s Open Dialogue Productions. The soundtrack with folk rock songs by Edward Herda and other artists is excellent and perfectly fits the bittersweet mood of the film.