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Movie Review: "Always Shine" at the UICA

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"Always Shine" is screening in the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts movie theater through January 26, 2017.

/Courtesy UICA

Underwriting support from:

Directed By: Sophia Takai

Genre: Drama | Thriller

Run Time: 85 Minutes

MPAA Rating: NR

Origin: United States

"Always Shine" is a 2016 American psychological thriller written by Lawrence Michael Levine and directed by Sophia Takal. The film follows two burgeoning actresses, Beth (Caitlin Fitzgerald) and Anna (Mackenzie Davis) who leave the hustle and bustle of L.A. to take a weekend retreat to Big Sur. The trip is intended to relax and rekindle their friendship but, unfortunately, instead of restoring their relationship, this bonding retreat uncovers hidden feelings and jealousy.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, it’s revealed that Beth and Anna have very different personalities and that they are at different points in their professional (and personal) lives. In the opening scene, the camera is framed in a medium close-up of Beth’s face. Beth is crying, pleading for her life, and claiming she’ll do anything to save her life. Off screen, we hear a man’s voice chime in and the camera pulls back to show that the scenario that we find Beth in isn’t life threatening at all, she’s at a casting call and is auditioning for a role. This role captures Beth’s personality; submissive and weak.

Minutes later we’re faced with the same frame but instead of Beth, we see Anna. Although Anna isn’t pleading, she’s filled with rage and is screaming at someone beyond the frame. As the camera pulls back, we find that Anna isn’t in an audition and is actually in an auto-repair shop and these are her true emotions. Anna’s personality is revealed as abrasive but strong. The film continues to present these distinct personalities colliding with one another and the rest of the picture will likely make your hair stand on end. "Always Shine" is a thrilling film and Sophia Takal is a director to keep watching in 2017.

"Always Shine" is screening Jan 13, 2017 – Jan 26, 2017.

Film Synopsis:

Two women, both actresses with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and jealousy have driven a wedge between them. Upon arrival at their isolated forest retreat, the pair discover that their once intimate friendship has deteriorated into forced conversations, betrayals, petty jealousies, and deep-seated resentment.

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