Becks

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  Becks
 

Becks, nee Rebecca (Lena Hall), has a folk rock band with her SO, Lucy (Hayley Kiyoko), playing the club circuit in NYC. But, when she finds out Lucy is unfaithful (with a younger woman, no less), the now-single Becks heads home to St. Louis and her supportive (sort of) mom, Ann (Christine Lahti), to recoup from her loss. Hopefully, life and love will change for the better for “Becks.”

Robin:
Co-directs and co-scribes (with Rebecca Drysdale) Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh craft fine character study with Lena Hall giving a richly-rendered, full-bodied performance, both as thesp and singer. There is a realistic believability to Hall’s Becks that gives the film a natural feel. It also helps that the supporting cast are also able to flesh out their characters to full dimension.

This is the kind of personal story that dovetails out nicely to bring in all those around Becks, from Dave (Dan Fogler), the owner of a bar and her best friend since high school to Alyssa (Mena Suvari), Becks secret crush, and mom, Ann, a former nun. The interactions between Becks and the rest rings totally true and I felt at home with these people.

Thomas Wolfe said in the title of his 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. “Becks” proves that you can, but it is not going to be the same one you  left. This is a story of strength and resilience as a young woman picks up the pieces of her past life and begins a new one – a new adventure. I give it a B.

Laura:
When her girlfriend and performing partner Lucy (Hayley Kiyoko, "Jem and the Holograms") gets the callup for a musical reality show in L.A., Becks (Lena Hall, Broadway's 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch') deals with their New York City apartment before following her cross country.  Once there, her heart is cruelly broken.  Licking her wounds, she goes home to St. Louis where her mother Ann (Christine Lahti), a former Catholic nun, is struggling with her daughter's sexual identity and where her far more supportive old boyfriend Dave (Dan Fogler, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them") offers her a gig singing at his bar that will bring local fame to "Becks."

Cowriters (with Rebecca Drysdale)/directors Daniel Powell (TV's 'Inside Amy Schumer') and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh saw singer/songwriter Alyssa Robbins perform in a St. Louis diner and, with her cooperation, wrote a film inspired by her life.  What they've captured is so natural, so real, it announces Powell and Rohrbaugh as filmmakers to watch and Hall as an all around talent.  The film isn't a typical musical, using songs from Robbins' 'Golden Heart' (plus some originals like 'Uncanny Valley') within Dave's Perfecto's bar and grille, Robbins' lyrics commenting on her betrayal ('Don't Go,' 'Rabbit Hole') and return ('Home'), flashbacks and their eventual lack signalling where Becks' heart lies.  Dialogue never feels false and is punctuated with Becks' edgy wit.

The filmmakers economically fill in Becks' back story, her relationship, move, break-up and return home all accomplished during opening credits.  At home, Ann assures her daughter she even attended a Gay Pride parade where she 'danced with a lovely man in 3 inch heels,' but Becks' is prickly around her.  Dave is a different story, enthusiastic and welcoming, gossiping about their old high school crowd.  During Becks' first performance, her old nemesis, 'Mitch the Bitch' (Darren Ritchie), is in the house.  Thrown off the couch by her frustrated mother, Becks wanders into Fleur-de-Lis Vintage Boutique while posting guitar lesson flyers and meets Elyse (Mena Suvari) who turns out to be Mitch's wife and a new fan.  Returning to Perfecto's with girlfriends in two, Elyse is encouraged pick up her own guitar and take lessons from Becks.

In so many ways "Becks" feels like a slice of real life, yet the filmmakers have packed it with subtext.  Rifling through a box of old photos reveals both mom's prior life and Becks' clear preference for her father.  Elyse's group of girlfriends open up a discourse on gay life outside of coastal cities, their fascination tartly responded to, a setup awkwardly obvious (and a signal of interest, the femininity of the wannabe matchmaker more to Becks' liking than the friendly butch woman who connects her with the local scene).  Siblings expand our understanding of family dynamics, an older sister on Skype combative, the return of brother Pete (Michael Zegen, "Frances Ha") to the family home an alliance resumed.  Religious oppression is expressed through a dress.  Hall makes an indelible impression while Suvari impresses and Fogler continues to demand reappraisal.

Life can change in the blink of an eye and Ann gets an eyeful she cannot process.  "Becks" ends on a downward note, Becks offering a choice she rescinds without discussion, but leaves its characters with new experiences to help determine their paths forward.

Grade:  B
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