“Frownland” is like a shriek for help. It centers on an extraordinary performance that plays like an unceasing panic attack. To call it uncompromising is to wish for a better word. It doesn’t ask us to like its central character; after all, no one in the film does. I don’t think he likes himself.
The character is Keith (Dore Mann). He is in his late 20s, a chain-smoker, a shabby dresser, a door-to-door salesman for dubious coupon booklets benefitting multiple sclerosis. His girlfriend, Laura (Mary Wall), arrives sobbing at his tiny room, sleeps with her face to the wall, sticks him with a push-pin.
Now why would you want to see this film? Most readers of this review probably wouldn’t. I’m writing for the rest of us. It is a rebirth of the need for expression that inspired the American independent movement in the first place, 50 years ago. It was written, directed and edited by Ronald Bronstein, who had a crew of one cameraman, one soundman and one grip. It has not been picked up for distribution; he is distributing it himself at shrines to outsider cinema. Continue reading