After his wife’s death, a mentally unstable man is determined to find true love once again. This is our review of director and writer Sheldon Maddux’s second film She’s Perfect.
A couple of years ago, director Maddux sent us his debut feature film Neon Days. Neon Days came across as a love letter to the coming-of-age films of the 90s, a period of filmmaking that started in 1991 with Richard Linklater’s Slacker and ended around 2000 with Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity. We gave Neon Days a very positive review and after watching She’s Perfect it’s safe to say that, although it is a major diversion in genre and style from his debut, as a director, Maddux is continuing in a very positive direction.
She’s Perfect stars regular Maddux collaborator Eric Hanson as Jack, who when we first meet him, is happily married and having a romantic dinner with his wife Fiona played by Julia Fontenot. Fiona is a hugely supportive partner to Jack, with her flowing red hair and a smile that can light up a room. Their early exchanges are beautifully constructed, giving us a real sense of history and chemistry between the two characters. Looking back at our review of Neon Days, it was noted that Hanson was very reminiscent of the actor Chris Cooper and that remains true for She’s Perfect; with the character of Jack, Hanson manages to convey the sternness of Cooper’s more intense roles, yet in the films lighter moments which are few and far between, he can channel an innocent sweetness that calls to mind Nick Offerman. Fontenot as Julia is an extremely capable foil and makes it easy for us to understand why Jack loves her so dearly and why he would go to the lengths he does during this 16-minute short. When tragedy strikes the couple, Jack becomes lost in a sea of depression and mental illness, and it is here that the story takes a hugely dark turn.
The cinematography by the experienced Evan Burns adds a lot to the production, as the imagery is crystal clear, the opening scenes are well-lit and bright using medium close-ups, and the shot choice from Maddux is extremely effective. There is a great tracking shot that takes place in a church that starts at the front and moves all the way into Jack’s face which leaves a huge impression. There are also some impressive exterior scenes in a forest where a full 360-degree handheld shot is arguably the most memorable of the entire film. Maddux also wrote the music and the soundtrack is very effective in its eeriness, despite sounding somewhat out of place, it also fits perfectly as this imbalance of the senses, unbalances the audience. Each sound creates an uneasiness that infuses the already creepy dialogue with a more sinister outlook.
She’s Perfect won a couple of awards for its script at a few different film festivals and it’s easy to see why as there is an original yet familiar feel to the story that borrows from modern classics like Silence Of The Lambs and Seven. Maddux’s direction manages to capture elements of both films while also giving us a captivating and imaginative story of his own. A talented director, I’m looking forward to what Sheldon Maddux comes up with next.