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Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then Movie Review

(This film was viewed at the 2010 Ottawa International Animation Festival.)

When telling the real-life story of Leonard Wood – a man who attempted to turn his home into a healing machine for his cancer-stricken wife – Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then director Brent Green imitated Method actors like Robert De Niro, building a full-scale replica of Leonard Wood’s infamous home in his own backyard. Watch it for free at https://123moviesgo.ga/.

While Green clearly empathizes with Wood and has a lot in common with his subject, the director lacks the technique and life experience to truly convey Leonard’s heartbreaking emotional journey.

Brent Green Directs Nervous Films’ Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, About Leonard Wood

Hardware store owner Leonard Wood (Michael McGinley) met his future wife Mary (Donna K.) in a car crash. They fell in love and married, seemingly destined for a happily ever after . . . until Mary developed cancer. Helpless to stop the disease that was destroying her from the inside, Leonard tried to turn their Kentucky home into a healing temple, using an inscrutable logic in his ceaseless renovations. The home became an obsession for him even after Mary died, until an accident forced him to sell their home.

Green narrates this tragedy in a live-action stop-motion style, manipulating his actors and props to create a jittery, dreamlike feel. Green narrates the film, also using black-and-white cards to signal the next section or make comments on what’s happening. It’s his narration that drives the story forward: he’s an agnostic trying to find meaning in Leonard’s religious beliefs, a rationalist grappling with his subject’s relentless quest to invoke a miracle for himself and his wife. The places where Green loses his detachment and discovers a matching desperation within himself are some of the most powerful sequences in the film.

Unfortunately, Green occasionally gets too cute for the room: McGinley and Donna K. look more like urban scenesters than rural Southerners, and the director throws in twee comments (like the flash card about Leonard’s habit of drinking milk) that pulls the audience out of the story.

The stop-motion animation style allows Green to unleash some genuinely spectacular effects on the cheap but hobbles the actors’ portrayals. It doesn’t help that McGinley and Donna K. don’t have the acting chops to make their roles truly vivid.

The script also doesn’t do them any favours: a scene where a dying Mary buys Leonard a bird could have been an emotional knockout as their otherwise banal conversation hides deeper connotations of love, sorrow and farewell. But the scene runs too long and the actors lack the skills to deliver the emotional weight it so desperately needs.

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then Is a Noble Try, but Doesn’t Do Justice to the Real-Life Story

In the right hands, this movie could have been a heartbreaking work of genius. Unfortunately, Green doesn’t have the technique to back up his intentions and the film suffers for it. While I applaud the director’s bravery in telling this powerful, overlooked tale, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then doesn’t fulfill its promise.

It gets a 2/5.

(This film was viewed at the 2010 Ottawa International Animation Festival.)

When telling the real-life story of Leonard Wood – a man who attempted to turn his home into a healing machine for his cancer-stricken wife – Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then director Brent Green imitated Method actors like Robert De Niro, building a full-scale replica of Leonard Wood’s infamous home in his own backyard.

While Green clearly empathizes with Wood and has a lot in common with his subject, the director lacks the technique and life experience to truly convey Leonard’s heartbreaking emotional journey.

 

Brent Green Directs Nervous Films’ Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, About Leonard Wood

Hardware store owner Leonard Wood (Michael McGinley) met his future wife Mary (Donna K.) in a car crash. They fell in love and married, seemingly destined for a happily ever after . . . until Mary developed cancer. Helpless to stop the disease that was destroying her from the inside, Leonard tried to turn their Kentucky home into a healing temple, using an inscrutable logic in his ceaseless renovations. The home became an obsession for him even after Mary died, until an accident forced him to sell their home.

Green narrates this tragedy in a live-action stop-motion style, manipulating his actors and props to create a jittery, dreamlike feel. Green narrates the film, also using black-and-white cards to signal the next section or make comments on what’s happening. It’s his narration that drives the story forward: he’s an agnostic trying to find meaning in Leonard’s religious beliefs, a rationalist grappling with his subject’s relentless quest to invoke a miracle for himself and his wife. The places where Green loses his detachment and discovers a matching desperation within himself are some of the most powerful sequences in the film.

Unfortunately, Green occasionally gets too cute for the room: McGinley and Donna K. look more like urban scenesters than rural Southerners, and the director throws in twee comments (like the flash card about Leonard’s habit of drinking milk) that pulls the audience out of the story.

The stop-motion animation style allows Green to unleash some genuinely spectacular effects on the cheap but hobbles the actors’ portrayals. It doesn’t help that McGinley and Donna K. don’t have the acting chops to make their roles truly vivid.

The script also doesn’t do them any favours: a scene where a dying Mary buys Leonard a bird could have been an emotional knockout as their otherwise banal conversation hides deeper connotations of love, sorrow and farewell. But the scene runs too long and the actors lack the skills to deliver the emotional weight it so desperately needs.

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then Is a Noble Try, but Doesn’t Do Justice to the Real-Life Story

In the right hands, this movie could have been a heartbreaking work of genius. Unfortunately, Green doesn’t have the technique to back up his intentions and the film suffers for it. While I applaud the director’s bravery in telling this powerful, overlooked tale, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then doesn’t fulfill its promise.

It gets a 2/5.

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