Dallas Movie Screening

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

NTXFF - This World Won't Break

Middle-aged troubadour Wes Milligan (Greg Schroeder) is a wannabe star whose time to be discovered is running out. Writer/director Josh David Jordan’s debut feature “This World Won’t Break” opens with Wes playing a gig at a small bar for a handful of people. His career as a musician is stagnant, close to death. Unsurprisingly, we quickly come to discover that Wes is broke, three months behind on rent, and has been evicted.

Despite his desires for fame and glory and his lack of income, Wes isn’t seen to be much of a go-getter. The only time we see him attempt to push his music is when he’s somehow managed to get himself an audience with a local radio personality. “This World Won’t Break” takes place in Dallas. I highly doubt any radio station in a major city (or elsewhere) would allow someone to come in off the street and confront their deejays. Wes is shown giving a number of intimate one on one performances, singing to his ex-wife’s voicemail and playing for friends and family. When he’s not singing, he’s at work, where he’s never seen doing any work – that is until the script requires him to cut himself washing dishes, thereby screwing up his shot at playing live for the aforementioned deejay.

Wes never becomes a character the audience cares about, always seen forlornly moping about. The people around him aren’t much better, caricatures included in place of an engaging narrative. His father (Matthew Posey), his friend Catfish (Mitchell Parrack), and even his landlord (Tim DeLaughter) are all stereotypes, personas seemingly included to relieve the audience of the dreary atmosphere despite the fact that they don’t blend with it. The acting across the board is poor, each actor trying too hard with their character, though the majority of the audience seemed to eat up the presented absurdity.

The movie is lacking a good editor. Scenes drag on for far longer than they should. At one point, Wes is seen playing for bartender Roxanna (Roxanna Redfoot), who works at the bar he plays for at the film’s start. The pair are alone in a large room. As Wes plays, Roxanna picks up a nearby hula-hoop and begins dancing along. The song ends and the two chat a bit before Wes leaves. Instead of ending the scene after Wes’s exit, the shot lingers, hovering long enough to show Roxanna once again start dancing around with the hula-hoop. Why? And why would there randomly be a hula-hoop in this room? The scene adds nothing to the story.

That seems to be the case for many of the scenes in Jordan’s film, left in to lengthen the work. There are too many subplots that go nowhere and add nothing. Later in the movie, Wes is seen cleaning out a dilapidated building, shoveling up mounds of dirt. Why is he doing this? The scene ultimately serves no purpose. To make matters worse, the same footage is shown again from a different angle. This is just one example of a long line of baffling choices in this feature.

Everyone in Wes’s life, besides his ex, repeatedly tells him how great he is. He’s repeatedly told that he has a gift that he needs to share with the world. It’s 2019, why doesn’t he have a YouTube channel. It’s hard to believe he’s tried that hard to be discovered or to share his work. To put it bluntly, “This World Won’t Break” is a self-indulgent melodrama. Running nearly two and a half hours, Jordan’s work is a film that is mostly a grueling endurance test. There’s not much being said throughout the work, other than trite phrases attempting to make the characters seem deep or clever. The runtime is bolstered by Schroeder performing many musical numbers with each of them bringing the movie to a grinding halt.

Jordan’s film lacks a good rhythm, needlessly floundering along for far longer than it should, though I’m not sure a tighter, shorter edit would have allowed this one to play better.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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