“Anyone Out There,” directed and produced by Tiaraju Aronovich, was showcased at the Sedona Film Festival this past weekend. Aronovich also starred in the film and composed the soundtrack. This is possibly the most involved you can be with your own film.
Not since “The Room” have audiences seen the same person in so many places at once in a film. And while the film has more strengths than the aforementioned Tommy Wiseau project, “Anyone Out There” never elevates itself above the status quo.
The film tells the tale of Mr. Ze, your typical, silent, good guy, hardworking janitor, who goes unnoticed even when his heart is failing and has only six months to live. He accepts this day in and day out and welcomes the inevitable end.
That is until his cousin Jandira, played by the gorgeous and expressive Amanda Maya, appears looking for a place to stay. She, in her naïveté, is concerned with becoming famous and how Mr. Ze will be remembered after his death. Both learn from each other about death and eternity and manage to come closer together as the film progresses.
While Amanda Maya gives a stellar performance as the young aspiring actress trying to understand her cousin’s acceptance of his six-month work schedule, Mr. Ze is as interesting as a wet napkin. He is a slow-moving (the film alludes but never explains if he is mentally handicapped or not) and boring individual, and this was in part due to the actor’s wooden and stiff acting.
He maintains the same facial expression throughout the entire film and gives Kristen Stewart a new benchmark in “plywood” acting. He grits his teeth, pushes his glasses and unhurriedly grasps an object each and every scene he is in. And the labored breathing he makes when simply walking anywhere is just irritating. It’s meant to convey struggle and that Ze is on his last legs, but film is a visual medium.
Auditory repetition throughout an entire film is irksome and only serves to distract the audience.
His motivations are also confusing. At a certain point, the two of them sleep together, and then the scene ends abruptly.
In the last 10 minutes, “Anyone Out There” gets its final message across. It’s worth hearing even if the journey to get to that point is one of stumbles and missteps. If “Anyone Out There” were condensed into a short film and not a 115-minute feature film, it would be much more enjoyable.
As it stands, “Anyone Out There” is a curiosity and a prime example of a director being too much in love with his own work and not willing to trim some of the fat.
Reach the reporter at Spencer.Fawcett@asu.edu.