2018 Dances With Films
In Max Gold’s dark comedy Silicon Beach (2018), Lucas (Oliver Singer) suffers a major career setback and needs a day gig. In an interview with a startup called roomie.com, the c.o.o. (Libby Baker) points out the obvious: “We don’t usually require a headshot for an office position.” On the plus side, she’s a fan of Knights in Bavaria, the Netflix show that fired him. Skeptical of yet another self-absorbed. out-of-work actor, she relents after his heartfelt pitch and takes him on as a temp.
Thinking he’s won, Lucas has traded on his boyish charm once again, but it’s a deal with the devil that doesn’t even include a benefits package. With his ten-year college reunion approaching, his life is in transition and so is the country at large which is about to elect its first female president.
In the heart of Southern California’s tech mecca, roomie’s beachside headquarters resembles a coffee shop stocked with comfy pillows. The production design team did a great job with this. Those of us used to ergonomic chairs and cubicles may not recognize this as an office, at all.Even though the work environment has changed considerably since Office Space (1999), quirky characters still abound including Lily (Erica Lupinacci), the motor mouth head of HR and Beau (Leigh Wakeford), the pretentious product manager, both ideally cast. Dana (Elizabeth Grullon) is the beautiful but unavailable software engineer who becomes Lukas’s confidante. IT guy Marcus (Antjuan Tobias) only wants “good vibes.”
Lucas has a deep wound from his breakup with Julie (Uzoamaka Maduka). His trainer Greta (Andrea Snædal) gives off more signals than Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967). She’s also reminiscent of Cybill Shepherd’s ice queen Betsy in Taxi Driver (1976).
In any event, the fleeting moment with Greta can’t fill the void in his life. Like a J.D. Salinger spiritual seeker or a Tibetan monk, he’s searching for a greater truth out of synch with everyone else’s agendas. He dreams about the sword and sorcery world of his former TV show. The Nordic voices in his head telling him he’s a failure also seem to emanate from that mysterious place. His best friend Grant (Brant Rotnem) stars in the Game of Thrones knockoff and is catching all the breaks.
At a team building retreat in the desert, the masks come off, secrets get revealed and company founder Keith (Ben Palacios) makes an unexpected announcement that will change all their lives forever.
One of the hits of the 2018 Dances With Films festival, Silicon Beach is complex and visually stunning, shot by Stephen Tringali and edited by Patrick Lawrence. Matt Orenstein’s haunting score adds to the unease.