The Time Being, Independent Feature from Nenad Cicin-Sain 1

The Time Being, Independent Feature from Nenad Cicin-Sain


Independent debut feature from Nenad Cicin-Sain, we see Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games, American Beauty, The Claim) take to the screen once again to play an intensely creepy character, toying with the taboos that exist with adult, children relationships.

An artist’s journey uncovering his own artistic and personal integrity, The Time Being is a cinematic pleasure to scope, de-saturated in style, and a plethora of dolly shots, camera pans, and expected close-ups of Bentley’s eyes. Enabling the viewer to consider how an artist’s family and financial stability can often be compromised by their work choice, or ethos, Cicin-Sain highlights the stress that this can often cause.

The narrative is interesting, although has definitely been played with before, and perhaps less wooden. Daniel (played by Bentley) meets benefactor, a conceivable performance from Frank Langella (Robot and Frank, The Ninth Gate), who makes him wrestle with his own internal ethos, and compromise his own talents, and autonomy as the artist. In this I felt hints of Basquiat, but also Jonathan Glazier’s Birth, playing with separate strands of the films’ themes but unfortunately more successfully.

The intense acting from Bentley works fantastically in this role, although I fear that he has perhaps been type-cast, but this time his video camera in American Beauty has been replaced with a different medium, the still camera, despite his preference to paint. Painting a voyeuristic character here throughout the film’s length the mood is darkened by the tick tick tick underscoring entwined with looming strings, the dark and brooding edge to this character is successfully unveiled. It would appear that Bentley succeeds in this appreciator of beauty role which we have now seen from him at least twice, which is not only by Sam Mendes but also now Cicin-Sain evoked with these cinematic close-ups of his hollowing eyes.

Clearly, however, the actress that really stole the picture is television actress, Sarah Paulson (Desperate Housewives, Deadwood, Martha Marcy May Marlene), and the camera work and score clearly add the emotive touches in this film with Wes being but a mere pawn in this typecast role, to bring a speculative flavour to the feature. Mihai Malaimare Jr, having more recently worked as cinematographer on The Master puts the piece of the puzzle together rather succinctly in terms of camera style and lighting, creating the blasted cold mood needed for a feature such as this.

Well-framed, well-shot, with obvious high production values as this film is inundated with dolly shots, tracking, pans, with a seductively dimmed lighting technique, opting for the low, Malaimare spins the viewer into a world where shudders creep upon them. Slanted low-angle shots effectively convey that Daniel has no real control or autonomy over his actions, suggestive of chess pieces in style. De-saturated colouring also evokes that this character’s life is lacking in vibrancy and vivacity despite his chosen artistic line of work, hinting at a more morbid, sinister side to his art surroundings.

Adding to this cold setting is the wooden dialogue, often uttered in formalities by Bentley and Ahna O’Reilly (who plays Olivia). The monotone vocals, certainly not embracing any emotive notions.

Award winning composer, Jan A. P. Kaczmarek (Finding Neverland) is the man responsible for the music underpinning The Time Being, commendably hitting the sombre mood with his brooding violin strings, and suspenseful ticking.

Clearly the pivotal moment in the film, when the strings start bouncing jovially, Daniel, replacing his camera for a paintbrush, his preferred medium, creating his pastiche of his benefactor’s work, it is almost too tongue in cheek, sticking to formula. The pigment in the colour almost seems to come back to life again at this point in the feature, and Daniel’s mood lifts, with a vitality and energy that oozes from Bentley in his brush stroke with acting.

Thus, despite the beautiful cinematography we are left with a film that generally attaches itself to the typical textual cliches, and acting that perhaps parallels work with Mendes. However, be sure to view, as it is an interesting film with some marvellous cinematography, in which you can get lost within.

The Time Being will be available to download and view-on-demand in the UK from September 1st 2014.

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