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Festivals Film Reviews Raindance Film Festival 2024

Review: Double Exposure. A beautiful essay about consequences

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Howard Goldberg.
  • Producers: Howard Goldberg and Julia Verdin.
  • Screenplay by: Howard Goldberg.
  • Cinematography by: Maximilian Schmige.
  • Music by: Ron Chen.

Synopsis: a man is forced to confront his past in order to decide his future.

Shotgun Commentary: trippy film about toxic relationships and how royally they can screw up your life.

Sarah (Caylee Cowan) and Peter (Alexander Calvert). Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024).

Review

Double Exposure is, much like the title hints, one story that takes place in two different realities. Past and present get tangled with the possibilities that the future holds in a fast-faced self-discovery journey. This feature is not a remake of Double Exposure (William Byron Hillman, 1982). It does have a few commonalities with it, such as a photographer protagonist and a dead young model. However, the similarities end there, so don’t expect a crime thriller.

Smells like 2000s adventure

Not gonna lie, for any hardcore Supernatural (Eric Kripke, 2005-2020) fan, seeing Alexander Calvert roam around between realities and possibilities with a very confused face will give off enormous Jack vibes. Also, there is a vengeful spirit around at one point, which doesn’t really help erase that connection. Not that it is particularly bothersome, anyway.

The story follows Peter (Alexander Calvert), a photographer that falls in love with a model and starts dating her. They are inexplicably happy (we’ll get into this later), until they have some problems and break up. Later on, she dies and he gets married to another woman. So far, so good. The problem is when past, present and future events start leaking into each other, taking Peter on a trip where he is made to face his actions and decide about his future accordingly.

Lora (Kahyun Kim) and Peter (Alexander Calvert) getting married. Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024). Courtesy of: Raindance Film Festival.

The best part of the feature is the gorgeous symbiosis between writing and editing. The way all the moments start getting scrambled together, with characters from present moments getting into memories from the future and vice versa, is absolutely wonderful. Despite the core of the story being quite simple in a A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843) sort of way, the storytelling is incredibly elaborate and very entertaining to watch.

There is a little note I’d like to make about the ending. So, if anyone doesn’t want spoiler before watching it, you can skip this part by clicking here.

What was that?

According to Howard Goldberg during the film’s Q&A at Raindance, the ending means that Peter has fully embraced his love for Lora. He wants to have a life with her (Kahyun Kim), but he runs out of time. However, and this might just be my Supernatural tendencies talking, the ghost scene completely changes the meaning of the ending.

Sarah (Caylee Cowan). Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024).

The way I see it, Peter either chooses to make peace with his actions and let them go, coming back to life; or he faces the judgement he thinks he deserves. Therefore, his death could also mean that he acknowledges what he did, and accepts to receive his punishment. There is also the possibility that the more you watch the film and notice other details, the more you change your reading about it, so I’m looking forward to watching it again soon!

What in the toxicity is this?

It is time to address the characters now, starting with Peter. The protagonist of this story is, simply put, a simp. He is incapable of standing up for himself or even recognising a huge red flag when he sees it. He is manipulated and psychologically abused by his girlfriend, and he feels guilty for standing up for himself once.

While there are indeed people like that, his absolute lack of spine and complete disregard for the feelings of the woman who actually loves and treats him right, Lora, make him a pretty unlikeable character. At the very least, hard to empathise with. Calvert plays the part pretty well, showing major improvements in his acting skills since his Supernatural days.

Peter (Alexander Calvert) and Sarah (Caylee Cowan). Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024).

Sarah (Caylee Cowan), the dead, toxic ex-girlfriend, is a lost soul who just wants to be loved unconditionally… and maintained… and worshipped… and spoiled with expensive luxuries… The list goes on and, while she pretends to be the perfect sweet girlfriend at first, the red flags start popping out within the first month of their relationship.

Curiously enough, Cowan’s acting greatly improves when she plays psychotic Sarah. At the beginning, when Sarah is sweet and nice, Cowan acts like she has no soul. Her performance bares a striking resemblance to that of Fabianne Therese as Amy in John Dies at the End (Don Coscarelli, 2012), during the scene where she is actually not Amy but an evil spirit disguised as her. This might have been the whole point, to hint at Sarah’s true personality. Sadly, it came across as soap opera-ish mostly.

It’s complicated

Their whole “love story” is very hard to understand. Sarah makes him say that he loves her every single time and then throws the fact that they love each other in his face, like he has made a promise he hasn’t kept, even after she’s left him in the most cruel way possible. The whole dynamic between them is incredibly frustrating, although not as much as his behaviour towards Lora. The line between making imperfect characters and creating downright loathsome people is very fine and sometimes blurry in this feature.

Sarah (Caylee Cowan). Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024).

All in all, Double Exposure explores toxic relationship dynamics, the laws of action-reaction, and a unique grieving process, in a somewhat sci-fi story. It is a very interesting film that, although it has some flaws, showcases a great deal of talent.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If anyone wants to force you to say that you love them, leave them immediately.
  • If your partner is more focused on his dead ex than he is on your relationship, and it has been years since his ex passed, leave him. He is clearly not ready for a relationship.
  • Not all pretty people are good people. If you don’t learn the difference, you might find yourself in a big pickle some day.
Sarah (Caylee Cowan). Source: Double Exposure (Howard Goldberg, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Double Exposure? What did you think of the ending? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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