Film Review: The Bachelors

Kurt Voelker’s The Bachelors is a drama which feels authentic. Good performances and a well-crafted narrative make for decent viewing.

After the death of his beloved wife, Bill and his teenage son Wes move across the country for a new start. Bill has a new teaching job in a private school, but grapples with his grief as he attempts to start afresh…

Written and directed by Kurt Voelker, The Bachelors is a drama about grief. There are aspects of comedy and romance, yet drama is the dominant force. Despite the subject matter, the film is not maudlin. The portrayal of a grieving father and son feels authentic. The fact that the focus is on male characters makes for a welcome change.

The story follows Bill, a year on the death of his wife of over thirty years. His attempt to deal with his grief has led him to relocate with his son. In Voelker’s film, grief isn’t something that is cured by fresh start or a burgeoning romance. Instead, viewers are given a more realistic portrayal. There are ups and downs for him, as well as difficulty in letting go, despite long-term therapy.

The other strand of the film focuses on Wes as he starts a new school. His main narrative focuses on his romantic interest in Lacy. Whilst Wes is sufficiently developed character, Lacy’s issues feel like shorthand. The most striking scenes with Wes tend to be with his father. The relationship between Bill and Carine fares better, although dialogue is not always  as good as the performances. J.K. Simmons delivers a very convincing and at times moving performance as Bill. Josh Wiggins is good as Wes, even if the chemistry with Odeya Rush’s Lacy does not hit the mark. Julie Delpy is also good, although she is not given a great deal to do.

The Bachelors works well thanks to J.K. Simmons’ strong performance and Voelker’s tempered exploration of the subject.

The Bachelors is available on DVD from Monday 28th May 2018.





Film Review: Weiner-Dog


Todd Solondz Wiener-Dog is an immensely entertaining black comedy. Some segments of the film charm more than others, but overall the film is very enjoyable viewing.

A dachshund passes from various owners, each with their own idiosyncrasies. The little dog impacts their lives, as he is passed from a family to a veterinary nurse, from an odd couple to a screenwriter…

Writer-director Todd Solondz delivers another black comedy which swiftly veers from humour to tragedy. Weiner-Dog works so well because Solondz captures his characters succinctly and successful. Each of the vignettes is distinctive, yet features the same brand of black comedy.

Weiner-Dog is divided into a series of short stories, each featuring the same cute dog. Some of these vignettes are more memorable than others. The film starts strong with a young boy getting his dog, despite the reluctance of his mother. This sequence sets up the tone of the film effectively. Solondz paints his film with some bleak ideas. It is the humour surrounding the darkness which makes the film enjoyable. There are some serious themes throughout the film, yet the light touch approach makes these palatable.

The veterinary nurse sequence is as sweet as it is odd. The vignette with the script writer at film school will prove most amusing for those who have experienced similar situations to those portrayed. The penultimate scene will satisfy only those with the darkest of humour. The prolonged duration will feel unnecessary for other viewers. There are some glorious shots in Weiner-Dog, not least the slow-motion interlude in the first segment. The intermission is charming in its silliness.

The ensemble cast of the film do a good job of inhabiting their characters. Kieran Culkin and Greta Gerwig work well together in their story. Julie Delpy is suitably priggish in the opening segment, a good contrast to joy of Keaton Nigel Cooke. Danny DeVito’s weariness perfectly suits his character.

The humour of Weiner-Dog will not thrill everyone, but it is wonderful fun for those who like their comedy black.