Produced by David Kitchens, Markus Linecker,
Dustin Coffey, Alex D’Lerma
Written and Directed by Alex D’Lerma
Starring Dustin Coffey, Linda Burzynski,
Ed Aristone, Lori Petty
Do you really want to live with an agoraphobic, environmentally obsessed weirdo?
Chet, the main character asks this question but it’s also a good one to think about watching Fear, Love, and Agoraphobia.
With this slice of “not normal” life you’ll be faced with again and again with this question.
Alex D’Lerma wrote, directed and produced Fear, Love, and Agoraphobia as part of “The Cinema Gym” actor and director coaching group he runs with over 20 members of the gym in front of and behind the camera.
This is his second feature and the film has won awards at some of the festivals where it played.
The film follows Chet played by Dustin Coffey, who has appeared in American Horror Story and 2 Broke Girls, as an agoraphobic video editor that is obsessed with environmental issues. Chet’s Mom and Step-dad relocate to another city. Chet decides it’s too much of a move for him so he stays in their old house but needs a roommate to help with bills and run errands like going to the store.
Chet eventually decides on Maggie, played by Linda Burzynski who has appeared in Animal Kingdom and American Crime, who previously was living in a friend’s van having spent most of her money trying to get her PTSD suffering husband out of a life sentence at a penitentiary. Maggie has a confrontational nature and a drinking problem.
The story tells an interesting tale of a person with a mental illness where there are good days and bad days and many days that are in between. The way the agoraphobia is handled is probably the best part of the film. Chet’s struggles and his developing relationship with Maggie are handled in a way that seems natural even when Maggie, thinking she’s helping, pushes Chet into a situation that causes him to break down.
Where the story falters is the sub-plot with Maggie’s incarcerated husband Rick, played by Ed Aristone. The interplay between Rick and Maggie just doesn’t seem realistic and the resolution to the sub-plot just left me thinking it was hastily done to get it over with. Where this sub-plot did work was when it helped deepen the relationship between Chet and Maggie. It helped give Maggie a reason for her behavior and some of the bad choices she makes. And as she shares her pain with Chet, he, in turn, opens up to her and some very real character interaction occurs.
One of the real highlights of the film is watching Lori Petty, Orange is the New Black, Tank Girl, and A League of Their Own, play a bar-owning “Obi Wan” style mentor to Maggie’s out of control spiral around her husbands conviction.” I’m not objective in that I really like Lori Petty as an actress and she doesn’t disappoint here. The role is an obvious add-in designed to get a bigger name in an easy to film small role that will help in marketing the film. Alec Guinness played the same kind of role in Star Wars and if this film gets a wider audience because of Petty’s involvement it’s all for the good.
So this is not a perfect movie.
The Rick story line did nothing for me and that leads directly to the next thing that disappointed me, the ending. The movie has fear, from both Chet and Maggie, and agoraphobia, from Chet, but love? I think in many ways both Maggie and Chet kind of fool themselves about what kind of love they are in, Maggie with Rick and Chet with Maggie. I felt the ending was moving into an exploration of this but the whole thing was just kind of dropped and the movie was over.
But even with the imperfections, I would recommend this film for the parts that are good.
Fear, Love, and Agoraphobia is currently available On Demand
on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.