When a movie is offered free (and legally) online to stream, and is only an hour in length, it is usually worth a stab. I had previously seen the trailer, which was well put together and struck enough curiosity within me to jot down the date upon which it would become accessible online.
So, what is it about? In short, this movie is about grief, and the effects that traumatic events can have on the mind. It begins with our main character Leah (Gaby Hoffman) and her girlfriend June (Ingrid Jungermann) being shown around an impressive New York apartment, with which they are clearly pleased. They have with them a toddler, and the witting building manager Karen (Rebecca Street) guesses that Leah is pregnant with another, a feat that Karen herself is openly trying to achieve.
Leah and June seem happy with their new life in New York. June is busy at work and on the road to success, whilst Leah is at home with the toddler unpacking their lives into their new home. There is, however, an event that turns their lives around. Although it is openly available on the short Synopsis, I will refrain from mentioning the details. This event is portrayed in a very clever way, again which i refuse to disclose (although I will say that it is a very original idea, utilising modern communication methods).
With this traumatic event, we see Leah's mind begin to unravel. She becomes suspicious of those around her, notably the building manager, and her paranoia gradually escalates into a final scene that is very well composed.
However, despite the film's unusually short length, there are periods in which one wonders in which direction the film is going. This is countered, it should be noted, by a good score which retains the film's eeriness throughout these moments in which the film seems to be petering along without purpose. Another essential distraction from this flaw in the narrative is the acting of Hoffman, who at times seems very accomplished indeed. There are moments when she perhaps gets carried away with the high-emotion scenes, but nonetheless her performance is a mile apart from most of her supporting cast (notably poor are Michael Che and Kim Allen, who play a friend of the couple and a neighbour, respectively, and fail to really portray emotion at any time during the film. This is particularly so in Che's case, in the final scenes of the film).
All in all, Lyle is an optimistic venture into the grief of the human mind, ultimately let down by its lack of direction and poor supporting acting. An interesting point for debate is whether writer/director Stewart Thorndike could have added ten or twenty more pages of screenplay, to try and flesh out some of the ideas throughout the movie which do not enjoy the focus that they deserve. Nonetheless, it was an adventurous film, and it hits home just well enough to make the viewer keep an eye on whether his new film will reach its Kickstarter target.