If you do not like rave reviews avert your eyes kids. Fear, Love, and Agoraphobia is one of those rare indie gems you are pleased to uncover. It has a comedic narrative infused with naturalism and heart.
The movie is about an Agoraphobic man and a female, former Marine who are housemates that become emotionally entwined while they help each other through the dark point of their lives.
The story opens on Chet, played by Dustin Coffey (2 Broke Girls (TV), Ray Donovan (TV)) inside his parked car. “Do it,” Chet says to prepare himself for what he about to do, he pounds the car interior while jump cuts energize the scene.
He puts on an air mask that obscures his face, slings a large backpack over his shoulder and enters a crowded bank. Just as soon as Chet enters, he leaves in a hurry with a security guard following him out.
Things are not what we feared, Chet is a hyper-paranoid Agoraphobic, the air mask is to protect himself from all the carcinogens in the air. Earlier he was amping himself up just to be able to enter the bank, to be around other people.
In this scene and a few others, the writer, director and editor Alex D’Lerma (Sell Out (Short), Yu Solve (TV)) draws us into the chaotic mindset of an Agoraphobic.
With a masterful use of sound design and editing we get a feeling of what it is like to suffer from this condition, much like in the movies Memento and Insomnia this adds even more texture to a complex and interesting character.
Fear, Love, and Agoraphobia is crafted in a way that you feel every edit, each pan of the camera may be a surprise in the works.
When Chet returns to the safety of his family home he is given a brutal wake up call. His parents are finally moving out, after ten years of taking care of Chet and the demands of his condition, now he has to deal with it on his own.
He decides to rent out a bedroom for cheap in order to have someone assist him and his shut in lifestyle. That is how Linda Burzynski (Shameless (TV), Christmas Crime Story) as Maggie enters his life.
Maggie has troubles of her own. She is a tough as nails Marine who was living in her van. Maggie is driven to alcoholism to cope the situation she and her husband find themselves in.
Ed Aristone (Cash Out, Delaware Shore) gives an arresting performance as Maggie’s husband Rick. He is in prison for a violent act that He claims was self-defence.
Maggie is flat broke after covering all the legal fees in the hopes of bringing Rick home and clearing his record. As the title suggests, fear love and Agoraphobia sets these three characters on a collision course, one that we hope they can free themselves from.
Thanks to the writing and the actors who bring these fully developed characters to life, we care about these people, even though they are far from perfect.
We recognize the human frailty, the need for love and connection that permeates our own lives. In a way each of these the characters represents these three human conditions.
Chet is Agoraphobia, Maggie is Love, expressed in the devotion she has toward Rick and lastly, Rick is thrown into an increasing state of fear, fear of never getting out of jail, fear of losing Maggie forever, fear of giving into vices found within those prison walls.
Chet has way more than just social anxiety, he is obsessive compulsive and neurotic. He keeps years worth of fingernail clippings inside a glass jar.
From the beginning we hear that Chet listens to the orations of Noam Chomsky, that would be enough to make anyone not want to step outside.
Maggie is understanding of Chet’s lifestyle the way other people are not. Coffey and Burzynski as this unlikely pair have a great chemistry on screen. Most importantly, these characters grow, they change in authentic, cathartic ways.
I was thrilled to see Lori Petty (Orange Is The New Black (TV), Prison Break (TV)) as Francis, the owner of the bar Maggie frequently drinks and occasionally works at.
While Petty did a tremendous job in the few scenes she was in, I do wish her character had more significance. Yes, she eventually advises Maggie to get her life in order and to go easy on the alcohol.
Francis also helps her by letting her work there, but by the end of the movie I felt that character could have been cut out and it would not have made a difference in the story. This is a minor thing to me, just a missed opportunity rather than a fault.
Fear, Love and Agoraphobia has been award decorated, including taking Best of the Festival at the Hoboken International Film Festival. This movie has been making the press rounds after an encouraging festival run and is available for pre-order from iTunes using the link below.
I am glad I got to see this movie early on and look forward the day when everyone is able to see it and form their own opinions. After all great movies are meant to be seen, especially the truly original ones like this.
Curt Wiser is the Writer, Director of the Suspense movie Cam-Girl. As a filmmaker and artist he is happy to praise an indie film (even if it is laid on a bit too thick) and share these movies with the world.