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Movie of the Day – Natural Selection

Posted on the 01 May 2013 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

This is a movie I have been waiting awhile to talk about, mainly because it didn’t get a release in theaters other than the festival circuit.  It kind of sucks talking about a movie that a lot of people won’t be able to see unless they get the VOD treatment or some form of streaming.  Natural Selection was a movie I was back in November 2011 at a local film festival in Kansas City.  I have to admit, even rewatching it makes me realize how much I loved this movie and the subject matter presented.  A fantastic flick with a knockout performance from Rachel Harris, Natural Selection wowed me with a deep, character drama with some dark hints of humor.

So it was a relief to track this down on dvd and give it another watch.  With an amazing performance from the two leads, Harris being the standout of the pack.  The movie certainly is indie at heart, with a strong character driven script that propels the interesting story and filled with moments of earnest, heartfelt discussions about the issue at heart.

Movie of the Day – Natural Selection

Linda White, a barren Christian housewife, leads a sheltered existence in suburban Texas. Her world is turned upside-down when she discovers that her dying husband, Abe, has a 23-year old illegitimate son named Raymond living in Florida. Somewhere on the edge of guilt and loneliness, Linda grants Abe’s final wish and sets off on a quixotic journey to find Raymond and bring him back before her husband passes away. Along the way, Linda’s wonderfully bizarre relationship with Raymond will teach her more about herself than she ever imagined possible and force her to come to terms with her troubled past. – Official Synopsis

This is one of the best character movies to be shown at the festival with Rachel Harris nailing her part perfectly as the misguided housewife who really doesn’t have her life figured out.  She doesn’t know what she wants and doesn’t even truly know the man she calls her husband.  She is sheltered and too trusting with people, but her journey to find her husbands illegitimate son leads her to a new path in life.  She begins to flesh out more as a character and begins to develop as a person.  She figures things out as the trip comes to a close and her close friendship with the son Raymond allows her to experience an openness that she doesn’t have with her husband.  She is funny and joyful, too trusting at times, but ultimately she comes to a realization about her life at the close of the movie.

Matt O’Leary as Raymond is convincing as the reject, slum society, illegitimate son of Linda and Abe.  We see him escaping from prison in the opening shot of the movie, indicating his fringe lifestyle and solidifies his rejected place in society, both as a son who doesn’t have a father and his place in life that he seems comfortable in.  At first his meeting with Linda shows his sleazy side, looking to take advantage of his current predicament, but much like Linda’s growth during the tumultuous trip to Texas, he begins to develop along with her.

Movie of the Day – Natural Selection

The odd-couple trip is enjoyable, with Linda being naive about Raymond’s intentions to escape the law and use her money to fund his getaway.  But through the adversity of both their pasts, they come to grow on one another, eventually leading each down a path they didn’t know was there.  It might be a bit difficult to accept that the sexless Christian woman would learn to lie, steal and succumb to the sins of life so quickly on her journey, but the two people are thrown together in some un-ordinary circumstances.

This was a rather refreshing movie, something different that mixes the road trip aspect with dark humor and sympathetic characters.  The movie is rather funny with some interesting throw away jokes and blink or you’ll miss it visual jokes (the sperm bank video selection is hilarious).  One of things that was explained to us by the Producer Paul Jensen and that is the title of the film.  When put into context, Natural Selection isn’t about the strongest and desirable people of society, but those that society just forgets about.  Linda is incapable of having children, thus her Christian husband doesn’t want to have sex with her unless she can give birth to children.  Raymond is just a fuck up, part of the penal system and discarded by society.  Both characters are essentially destined to find one another in that they are the dregs of society.  They have no real place other than being on the outside of life.  The title also relates to the growth that both have as the movie nears the credits.

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