While drunk at his best friend's New Year's Eve party, Owen manages to fall off the roof and shatter his arm in several places. He soon finds himself single and struggling to connect with his estranged son. Owen (played by Bryan Greenberg) quickly realises that he must make major changes in his life, and the first casualty is alcohol.
From first-time director Stephen Suettinger, A Year and Change is very much your typical indie effort. We follow Owen over a 12-month period, and watch while he first hits emotional rock bottom, struggles with various relationships, then tries to turn his life around. Co-written by Jim Beggarly, A Year and Change is a charming little film that doesn't demand too much from the viewer, yet it stays with you long after the end credits roll.
I had big expectations for Bryan Greenberg after his appearance in Prime with Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman back in 2005, but acting is a fickle business that doesn't always reward those most deserving. A steady, hard-working actor, Greenberg handled the character of Owen with expected ease, giving a nice balance to his performance. Owen is exceptionally big-hearted and always willing to lend a helping hand to his friends. But, for whatever reason he can't seem to please himself or his family. His young son Adam (Drew Shugart) appears to be distant, and ex-wife Cindy (Kat Foster) clearly no longer has any positive feelings towards him.
A Year and Change
Bryan Greenberg, Claire van der Boom, T.R. Knight, Jamie Chung
24 November 2015
Nav's Grade: B
The wonderful Claire van der Boom plays Vera, Owen's new love interest. The recently divorced Vera is having a hard time adjusting to her new single status, and because Owen has been divorced longer, he offers her a shoulder to cry on. After Owen catches girlfriend Pam (Jamie Chung) in bed with his friend, he and Vera start dating. Of course, the road isn't as smooth as either would like. While all this is going on, Owen's relations and friends are always in the periphery keeping things interesting. In fact, a special mention must be made of T.R. Knight's performance as cousin Kenny. Knight really gets into the role of the deeply troubled Kenny -- who's been accused of having relations with an underage girl -- and gives the character lots of depth, forcing you to feel empathic towards him, and considering what Kenny is accused of this was no small feat.
The remaining cast also do some fine work with their arcs and characters, like Natasha Rothwell as Angie, and the prolific Jamie Hector playing Todd. Todd has been left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident, leaving sister Angie struggling to look after him. When their father dies, Owen offers to move them into his home, and even offers to go through special training to look after Todd. Eventually, Owen has this entourage of people that he's helping, from an ex-con to a wheelchair-bound Todd. While this part of the story may not ring particularly true, it sure looks nice!
A Year and Change is a solid debut from Stephen Suettinger, boldly announcing his arrival as a filmmaker while giving us a taste of what to expect in the future. This film demonstrates that Suettinger has what it takes to deliver the goods with very little money. Let's hope the right people take note.