SXSW 2012: “In Our Nature” – Review by MovieManMenzel

A character study with a little too much character.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was extremely pumped to see In Our Nature while attending SXSW 2012. The festival was the home of several huge films this year including Cabin in the Woods, 21 Jump Street, and Killer Joe  just to name a few. While there is nothing like being at a major premiere during a film festival, I personally love seeing the smaller “indie” gems when I attend a film festival as well. When I read about a movie like In Our Nature, it is usually something that really intrigues me and is right up my alley. Let me not forget to mention the fact that I absolutely adore Jena Malone and have done so ever since I first saw her in that movie Cheaters way back in 2000 and have seen just about everything that she has been in ever since even the notorious Sucker Punch that I hate to admit I kind of enjoyed.

In Our Nature is a character driven indie drama. The film follows Seth (Zach Gilford) and his girlfriend Andie (Jena Malone) as they venture away from the city to his father’s cabin for the weekend with the hope of getting some alone time with one another. Once they arrive, the couple begins to enjoy nature and each other, but they are soon interrupted when Seth’s dad Gil (John Slattery) also heads to the cabin with his girlfriend Vicky (Gabrielle Union) for the weekend. The two couples must now decide how to handle this weekend and that fact that they just might learn about each other in the process.

While at SXSW 2012, I had the great opportunity to sit down and interview both Gabrielle Union as well as the film’s writer/director Brian Savelson. Both are extremely nice people and really hold a strong passion and love for the craft of film-making. Union, in my opinion, is truly underrated and under-appreciated as an actress. Savelson is a really is a nice guy and really put his hard work into trying to craft a solid first feature film so I told him personally that I was going to review it and that I had high hopes for the film.

When walking out of the theater after seeing the last screening of In Our Nature at SXSW, it took me a while to really process the film and figure out my exact thoughts on it. This is a movie that I feel at first glance many would label as “slow” and “dull,” but I really appreciate the fact that the director/writer Brian Savelson focused on the characters and really added a lot of depth to them. Remember folks, this isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster, but rather a small indie film about relationships as well as the characters themselves. There is a lot of character in this film, but I must admit maybe a bit too much.

Speaking of characters, the movie itself has a wonderful and talented cast. This four person cast includes Mad Men’s John Slattery, Jena Malone, Zach Gilford, and the gorgeous and underused Gabrielle Union. The chemistry between each character is right on the mark and the performances are top notch. The cast plays off one another nicely no matter if they are yelling or falling in love with one another. Everyone from Malone to Union is believable and realistic in their roles. The casting for the film was really superb and Savelson gets a lot out of these actors and their performances.

As mentioned previously, this film is really nothing else but a character study with four stars holding the entire film with well written dialogue surrounded by beautiful nature shots. While I am usually the guy who begs for more character development in his movies, this is one of those odd instances where the film needs a little something else to go along with the character development. It lacks some gusto and feels like it falls a bit flat in the 3rd act of the film. It needed something more than just characters talking with one another, but what is really hard to pinpoint, my guess is some hard hitting conflict.

I feel that In Our Nature spends the majority of its time developing the characters, but there is really nothing much happening in the film other than conversation and learning who these characters are and why they are the way they are. The film is really strong for the first 60 minutes of its run-time, but then feels like it is uncertain of what to do with the remaining time. The movie has its fair share of conflict that really draws the viewer into the film, but it isn’t as strong enough to really make this film shine as much as it should. There are also several long scenes that could be cut such as several scenes where the actors are talking about vegan food that feel a little too much like filler rather than actual story marks. Sadly, these are the moments that make the film’s run-time feel a lot longer than the actual 90 minutes that it really is.

At the end of the day, In Our Nature is a solid first full length feature. Brain Savelson really captures the beauty of human nature in all its essence both literally and figuratively speaking. The cast delivers some truly terrific performances especially Zach and John, who really tackle that dysfunctional father/son relationship as if it were entirely authentic. While In Our Nature lacks some necessary conflict and should have focused more towards building a deeper conflict within the characters, this movie as Gabrielle Union pointed out during our interview is really a film that is for anyone who ever had issues with a parent can appreciate. It’s a film that while slow moving, really does have an impact on its audience. It’s a good solid effort and that is why I will recommend this film to most indie lovers, who appreciate a film with a solid story and characters.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for In Our Nature is a 7 out of 10.

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