HOLD THE DOOR ** 1/2
Written by: Mark E. Johnson
Directed by: Mark E. Johnson
Starring: Manuel Guzman, Omar Huamanchumo, Ella Vanetino
OREM Not all movies at the LDS Film Festival have lighthearted or Mormon-culture themes. One such film this year, "Hold the Door," is dark and perplexing at times.
The film is based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Idiot," a tale of forgiveness between two young men, and is set in New York with Latino actors. At an after-viewing Q&A, Johnson said, "The color scheme of hatred and forgiveness might not be a bright sunny day."
"Hold the Door" was shot in Manhattan within an eight-week period. Johnson said he auditioned hundreds of actors but couldn't find just the right person for the lead. Spotting a young high school student, Manuel Guzman, on a subway, Johnson followed him through six subway cars and asked him to audition. Never having acted before, Guzman got the part.
In the film, a love triangle ensues between two young men, Eugene (Guzman) and Hector (Omar Huamanchumo), and Monica (Ella Valentino), a beautiful angst-ridden teen. While Hector's approach with Monica is harsh and possessive, Eugene only gazes longingly at Monica, declaring her "perfect."
On a budget of just $160,000, Johnson captures a bit of life in Manhattan, seen through the eyes of Latin teenagers dabbling with newfound relationships. Part of the music for the film is a lone cello piece, effective at times but overdone, with additional music nearly overwhelming the actors' dialogue, which is sparse. Camera shots of actors' faces are dramatic but dominate the whole movie, although one viewer liked the outcome.
"The eyes had much more dialogue," said Scott Holden of Springville. "I thought it was beautiful, thoughtful and quietly brooding."
This was Johnson's first try at a feature film and was completed seven years ago while he was living in New York City.
If you are a moviegoer who seeks quietly brooding films, "Hold the Door" is one for your list.