Shuffle (Kurt Kuenne, 2011): USA

Reviewed by Luke Catena, Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Doodoo, doodoo, doodoo, doodoo…You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!

Kurt Kuenne’s Shuffle, might not have been part of the original Twilight Zone, but he channels his inner Rod Serling for this one. Shot in black and white, with very hard lighting and a dim haze, Shuffle is mind bending and superb.

Lovell Milo, played excellently by T.J. Thyne (Bones), falls asleep and wakes up a different age. 26 to 92 to 12 to 32. He has no idea how, why, or when anything happens. He is reliving days past after seeing years into his future. One day his wife is happily waking him up, the next he is snapping photos as an 8 year old boy, then the next he is depressed taking professional wedding photos.

Though the narrative is all over the place, Kuenne does a great job in never losing his audience. The entire movie flows flawlessly from scene to scene. It is confusing at times but it only takes a moment to regain what is happening.

Thyne gives a great lead performance with moments of jubilation, regret, and despair. Sincere and utterly believable, Milo is a lovable character with many flaws.

Playing Lovell’s childhood friend and eventual wife, Grace, is played by Paula Rhodes. She does a great job throughout the film and is essential to the plot.

My favorite aspect of the film is how similar it is to the Twilight Zone, a favorite of mine. I was lucky enough to be in the crowd during a late night showing of the film and was the first to raise my hand during the Q&A at the end. When I asked if either the director or the star had been fond of the show, they both smiled and laughed. The answer was yes, very much. I loved seeing two grown men so happy and proud of their work and it really inspired me as a filmmaker.

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