Spring Forward

Spring Forward is a simple, intimate film that manages to be fully engrossing. It centers completely on the relationship between two men, Murphy and Paul. They work for the Parks and Recreation department of a small northeastern town. Paul is just out of jail and looking for a steady job, and Murphy is the only person who will take a chance on him. Writer/director Tom Gilroy (Touch Base) manages to craft a movie based nearly completely on a continuing dialogue between two people. For a movie where nothing else happens, it never goes anywhere near the level of boring.

Murphy (Ned Beatty, Life, Cookie's Fortune) is the pragmatic one. He is older, wiser, and experienced much in life. Paul (Liev Schreiber, Hamlet, Scream 3) is almost a polar opposite. Initially, he is extremely nervous. He wants to start over, and he wants to do it correctly. He is extremely sensitive to any of his actions, especially his quick temper. Paul lashes out a couple times in the beginning, but quickly realizes he did and apologizes profusely. Beatty and Schreiber give wonderful, naturalistic performances. It does not feel at all like watching a movie. Instead, it feels like a glimpse into the life of two completely normal people. This is due both to the talent of Beatty and Schreiber and Gilroy's script.

They start as mentor and student. Murphy is there to teach Paul about the world. How to act, what to say, and how to live. Time passes, and their friendship deepens. It soon becomes more of a father-son relationship. The two become very close, and it is obvious by what they say to each other. The conversations at the beginning of the movie are superficial. As the movie progresses, they talk about more substantive issues. They discuss their hopes, dreams, and even their failures. Gilroy also uses the surroundings to convey the passage of time. Leaves turn from green to brown, then disappear completely, replaced by snow. Even more convincing is growth/loss of hair on Beatty and Schreiber. Gilroy has them growing their hair longer, getting haircuts, growing/losing sideburns, and other things that need time to happen. As a title, Spring Forward can have multiple meanings. The first can be a literal translation. It begins in the spring, and time passes from then. It can also mean a new beginning for Paul's character. Either way, it was a nice surprise.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated R for language and some drug content.

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