By Laurie Coker
Having enjoyed Sally Fields’ quirky little comedy, Hello My Name is Doris, seeing another film by writer/director Laura Terruso seemed a good option at SXSW this year. Indie films make for some of the best and yes, sometimes, the worst of the festival. Fits and Starts follows a struggling novelist through a night that goes from bad to absurd. It took a long time for Hello My Name is Doris to come to mainstream and I cannot help but think this little gem might follow Doris’ path.
Fits and Starts stars Wyatt Cenac and Greta Lee as married writers whose careers don’t align – he still laboring, she published. Filled with oddball characters, Fits and Starts is an Indie film with buoyant personality even if the story is a tad commonplace. After the couple is separated on the way to a party David Warwick (Cenac) finds himself alone awkwardly navigating a conversation with other authors and performers. In the world of art snobs, a night gone awry is filled with wittiness and sarcasm and not blundering and asininity.
Terruso makes good use of her casts and writes to them lovingly. She shoots Fits and Starts with natural light, on digital and the entire affair takes place in a single location. Since the story is character rich, the limited location provides a pleasing intimacy. Her characters are fun and her spoof of the art world clear. There is no need to venture past the parameters of her setting because the action and verbal witticisms define the story. The banter is fresh and the delivery spot on.
The film’s pacing is perfect and the cast entertains. Cenac and Lee have a notable chemistry and when Cenac is on his own, he affords his character an even more droll, delightful sense of humor – one that the ensemble cast plays well to. Character driven and well crafted, Fit and Starts earns a B for me. We will see it is makes it beyond the festival circuit.