A workaholic TV news producer finds out he is dying and dedicates his remaining days to making a movie about the meaning of life for his estranged wife and their soon-to-be-born son. Here is our review of Dave Ash’s drama, Incompleteness Part One.
We reviewed director Dave Ash’s earlier film Twin Cities a few years ago, it was an enjoyable film that garnered 4 stars from us. This time, Incompleteness Part One tells us a story that sets our minds at work. It’s a story that makes you wonder how you would feel and what you would do if you were in the same predicament. The movie is about a man called Alex who has to deal with some good news and an awful lot of bad news. The good news is that his wife is pregnant and they are going to have their first child. The bad news is, he is estranged from his wife, he owes a lot of money, and he is dying from cancer. It’s this bad news that becomes the catalyst for Alex’s quest to direct a semi-autobiographical movie for the son he will never see.
Incompleteness Part One is not just solely about Alex’s journey, it’s more of an ensemble piece in the vein of Paul Tomas Anderson or Robert Altman. Alex (played by actor Matt Bailey) is the focal point, then there is also his screenwriting partner Paul (Clarence Wethern), who is a somewhat disturbed and obsessive individual with his own unique thoughts on life and love. There’s a brand new couple, Emily and John who are just beginning their life together, there are a few members of the cast and crew of Alex’s film, all of whom have their own particular set of problems and quirks, and of course, there is also Alex’s wife.
The problem with Incompleteness Part One is that the very best ensemble pieces remind you of what original compelling characters the movies can give you. They pay attention to the people who inhabit the world. Incompleteness Part One pays attention to the characters, it’s just that nothing of note happens to many of them. They are simply living their ordinary lives and going through the motions, only Alex has any sort of backstory that keeps us compelled.
Researching the production I found that Incompleteness Part One began life as a TV show and, having not seen the show, my assumption is that this movie is a feature-length version of the first season. Transferring TV shows to film is often a tricky business and you need to have a strong director and clever editor. Incompleteness Part One does succeed in having both at the helm but it is in the movie’s characters that its TV origins become more noticeable. There is a lot to learn about each of the people we meet during the 110 minute run time but unfortunately, there is not enough time to cover it all. This leads to some of the characters being left hanging on one thread while the film takes us in another direction. The performances of the cast are all very strong, and it’s Matt Bailey’s Alex who fairs the best as his scenes, especially when talking to his unborn son, give him plenty of opportunities to emote and his ability to do this helps them to become extremely affecting and the standout moments in the film.
The cinematography by cinematographer Brennan Vance is top-notch – the images are all of a high quality and, although the shots tend to be mainly mid shots and close-ups, every scene looks great. Brennan has won major TV and Film awards for his work over the years and you can see his experience ooze from every scene. Ash’s direction is confident and brash and, although the focus does get a little confusing at times with a couple of scenes that tend to drag a little, Ash’s sense of storytelling never falters. Despite those minimal lapses the audience is kept interested and given just enough scraps to keep them intrigued and invested until the final denouement.
Overall Incompleteness Part One, much like its protagonist Alex, has a lot of good things going for it as well as a few bad things, but it is never less than fascinating and I have no problems highly recommending it.