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Rottinghaus film shows promise before faltering

Apr. 3, 2012
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Amnesia is a theme filmmakers never seem to forget. In Apart, the old idea receives a few new twists as 20-something protagonist Noah (a listlessly sullen Josh Danziger) awakens from a two-year coma with severe physical and mental trauma. Before long he's out of the wheelchair and in the driver's seat, and advances from blinking once for “yes,” twice for “no” to his therapist's queries into bitter dialogue over his fate.

Digitally murky yet masterfully edited and often visually dynamic, Apart proceeds from a good premise through flashbacks well meshed with the present, a pattern of odd recurrent images pulled forward by new information on Noah's patchy memory and his previous life as a high-school senior.

Intriguingly, Noah seems to be at the center of a conspiracy of silence involving his psychiatrist, his brother and apparently random people who know him even though he can't recall them. His desperate need to understand what happened—some kind of calamity involving a fire and the death of his father—brings Noah back to his hometown and a girl who stirs memories—his sort-of-ex-girlfriend Emily (a sullenly hostile Olesya Rulin). Emily sees blood and stigmata and has intimations of the future that sometimes come true—especially when she ignores her therapist and goes off her meds. Are Noah and Emily both suffering from a rare psychological disorder in which schizophrenics share delusions that become reality—or something like that? Is that really in the psychiatric desk manual, and, if so, maybe that new revised edition is long overdue?

Writer-director Aaron Rottinghaus is a talented filmmaker in need of a better story—the story he almost has in his hands. Apart is believably cast and engaging up to a point, yet in the end becomes unconvincing and convoluted, maybe even bewildering.

Opens April 6 at Downer Theatre.


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