Review: Slow Machine

Title: Slow Machine
MPAA Rating: N/A
Director: Joe Denardo, Paul Felten
Starring: Stephanie Hayes, Chloƫ Sevigny, Scott Shepherd
Runtime: 1 hour 12 minutes

What it is: Aspiring actress Stephanie meets Gerard, a counter-terrorism detective who’s a little too eager to share his personal life. The two begin to connect and things slowly blossom but we’re left with unanswered questions as things go awry. What is Gerard’s true motivation? Does his fiancee really exist? Is he really who he says he is?

What we think: Some interesting characters and a decently intriguing premise are bogged down by some poor performances, bad accents, and uneven pacing. The filmmakers take some risks to make the movie pop and some work better than others. It’s shot in 16mm which gives it a raw look and compliments the tone. It works to incorporate music but it comes off as interludes to the actual plot rather than complementary to it. Hayes and Shepherd are good when on-screen together but have some moments apart that are a bit cringy and off-kilter. The film runs a brisk 72 minutes but it still feels like some scenes are unnecessary and could have been replaced with more interactions between the two leads. There are some redeeming qualities here but they get overshadowed by some key elements that make the film dull for stretches. The first two extended conversations between Stephanie and Gerard are far and away from the best sequences of the film and there’s a lot to love: charm, intrigue, chemistry. But that momentum doesn’t build quite as it should.

Our grade: C-, There’s an interesting story here and some genuinely good filmmaking and performances that can’t shake the weaker parts of the film. A movie as dependent on dialogue as this one needs to really nail the performances and pacing to really shine, but there is enough here to appreciate if you’re willing to wade through the weaker parts.