Like Groundhog Day, the new film Life of Significant Soil finds characters forced to relive the same day over and over again. Unlike that Bill Murray film, the proceedings in this movie are less comedic and more romantic. The victims of this time-traveling doozy are Conor (Alexis Mouyiari) and Addison (Charlotte Bydwell), a couple who are nearing the end of their relationship. Being that the day never seems to progress, they must face the end of their relationship repeatedly.
Sometimes a clever concept can work wonders, but in the case of Life of Significant Soil, the time-repeat concept actually hinders the plot and characters. Reliving these moments with Conor and Addison is never worth the constant repeating and investigating. Not much is learned each time the characters reset, and on more than one occasion, I rolled my eyes that the plot was repeating itself once again. I wanted the characters to progress, to move on, and if that was impossible, then I wanted them to split up already.
This is not to take away from Mouyiari and Bydwell’s fine acting. They hold their characters together with a believability and subtleness that feel organic. Unfortunately the script from Michael Irish, who also directed, never advances the characterizations. So there’s all this organic acting and not much that comes from it.
The DIY aesthetic of the drama is also appreciated, and that is a credit to Irish. The camerawork achieves an intimacy with these characters. Sometimes the lens appears to be in bed with them, on a roller-coaster with them, always digging deeper on their relationship. That makes sense for the narrative, and it’s nice to see a filmic technique match the storytelling. Too often directorial flourishes feel extraneous and like the filmmaker simply found some new buttons to push. That’s not the case with Life of Significant Soil; it may not be a superlative film, but it’s a solid effort of acting and camerawork.
Life of Significant Soil has enough interesting material for audience members to give it a chance. After all, it only runs 72 minutes. The frustration is that after that running time, there’s a genuine yearning for more, and yet the end credits roll … with no more repeating of the day.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Life of Significant Soil (2016), written and directed by Michael Irish, stars Alexis Mouyiari and Charlotte Bydwell. Running time: 72 minutes. Rating: