Join Joan and Miles as they make their way through life in this week’s BitPix Pick of the Week, American Waste. As they live out their days in the small town they know and live, the couple shifts from day to day, making their way through the monotony of work, friends and the life that while consistent, may be something they’re ready to move on from.
Joan (Ainsley Sieger) is an artist, who, with luck, will be able to get out into the world to show everyone her talents. Miles (Patrick Monaghan) is a wonderfully loving and supporting partner, though the knowledge that Joan’s art career would take them out of the comforts of the life they’ve built gives him a moment of pause. His hesitation, combined with Joan’s own long-kept feelings on leaving the comforts of their lives leaves both of them wondering what to do next. To take a risk and live with the potential failure or to hold on to what you know and always wonder what would have happened is a core issue that is so identifiable in so many ways.
This film has a familiar sense of comfort to it. The setting, these characters, the lives they lead all feel lived-in. As if this film is just a short excursion into the day to day lives of Joan and Miles. Their jobs, their relationship, their struggles; all of it just exists. It’s beautiful in that way, giving the less than thirty minute film room to breathe, to feel like a tape on an infinite loop. To say that nothing happens would be disingenuous, but to say anything happens at all wouldn’t entirely be untrue. This is a film that just is, and it’s all the better for it.
Seiger and Monaghan are a perfect pair, comfortable but still deeply in love. Supportive and kind, but stuck. They each push the other forward while also kind of holding them back, or at the very least enabling the fear of leaving in the other to keep them both in place. This kind of relationship isn’t bad, in fact, watching the two of them couldn’t help but bring about a smile. Seeing them just plop down on the couch in each other’s arms, talking about missing their favorite shows and just living their lives brings something magical to the film, despite sounding bland.
Writers Bridget Anderson and Jordan McLaughlin (who also directed) have found a way to capture small town life in this kind of perfect microcosm; torn between the comforts of home and the promise of life in the big city, between the relationships you’ve built and the excitement of pursuing a passion. It’s familiar to anyone who grew up like this. To talk of one day leaving this boring little burgh, to making a name for yourself. The confidence of thinking you, out of everyone there, can make it, and the internal fear that you can’t. It’s all captured so perfectly in this, and beautifully shot by McLaughlin, who found a way to not make the viewer feel like an observer, but a participant.
These kinds of slice-of-life films are so often just that, a small piece of a puzzle in the lives of others, but this brings it about in such a way that it can feel like your life too. It’s easy to identify with Joan and Miles, because you’ve been them or you know people just like them. It’s subtle but moving, and obvious as to why American Waste has gotten the attention it has.
The best way to see what I mean by all this is to give the film a look yourself this week on the BitPix platform. It’s well worth it.