The Independents (Greg Naughton, 2018) USA

Reviewed by Hollyn Heron. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Independents (Naughton) sounds like the quintessential road trip, getting-the-band-together film. Starring real life friends, and band mates, Greg Naughton, Brian Chartrand, and Rich Price as three middle aged men who stumble upon each other and decide to form a band.

The visuals and cinematography of this film are above excellent; but also a clear indication of where the money for this film went. Production value of The Independents would have the audience believe that the film was carefully constructed and would deliver stunning performances and a “feel good” message. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Written and directed by Greg Naughton, The Independents lacks a natural narrative. The film starts with Rich sitting in his apartment playing guitar and singing along, when suddenly, Greg shows up at the door and notices that Rich is a pretty good guitar player. And hey, Greg plays guitar too! What a coincidence! So they form a band in under 5 minutes of knowing each other. Conveniently, there is a folk music festival they can play that very weekend so they hop in a van and start their road trip. But their little band is incomplete. Lucky for them, they find a drifter, Brian, who also happens to be a talented musician, and decides to join the band too. However, fate has other plans for their band, when all of a sudden, their van is discovered to have unpaid parking tickets, so the road trip must come to an end, and everyone goes their separate ways. But it doesn’t end there. Despite the fact that Brian was picked up in the middle of nowhere, Greg and Rich discover him playing in a bar in their hometown, and they get to reunite the band! The great news is that there happens to be a record producer in the audience who wants them to play a gig on the other side of the country. Road trip back on!

The Independents jagged story line could have been saved if the dialogue was more natural. Sadly, the dialogue was inorganic and the conversations between the three men was contrived. There is one instance during an argument where Greg tells Rich that he has to go see this woman, Kelly, because he “took a vow,” instead of simply telling Rich that Kelly is his wife. Why he would phrase it like that, is beyond me, since no one talks like that. This is not the only instance of bizarre dialogue. Greg Naughton attempts to cram too much in the film, and relies too heavily conversations to move the road trip along, which falls short.

If anything thing, this film was nothing more than a vehicle to promote the characters real life band, The Sweet Remains.  On that note, their music is good, and they are talented musicians, but that talent does not translate to film making.



About this entry