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HAMILTON (director/writer: Matt Porterfield; cinematographer: Jeremy Saulnier; editor: Matt Porterfield; cast: Stephanie Vizzi (Lena), Chris Myers (Joe), Sarah Seipp-Williams (Candace), Gina Mooers (Linda), Megan Clark (April), Madeleine Saar Reeser (Adeline); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jordan Mintzer; Cinema Guild; 2006)

“Well-composed minimalistindie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This well-composed minimalist indie is the first feature film of writer, director and editor Matt Porterfield. It’s set in Porterfield’s suburban hometown, an integrated modest blue-collar neighborhood called Hamilton in northeast Baltimore, where whites and blacks mix easily without discord. It tells of the struggles of a young couple, the lanky, laconic and sullen 20-year-old Joe (Chris Myers) and his estranged 17-year-old girlfriend Lena (Stephanie Vizzi), who is raising their infant daughter in Joe’s single mother’s house. Joe has a place on his own, and works hard mowing lawns and doing odd jobs. He loves Lena and sends money regularly to her for child support. Lena works in a bakery, operating a huge industrial mixer.

The plotless film takes place over two summer days. It revolves around Lena taking the baby for a month’s vacation to her granny’s house on the Jersey shore, and wondering if Joe will come along. The subdued mellow film paints a glum mood for the two lonely disenfranchised uneducated youths unable to deal with adult responsibilities after getting into an adult situation and are now faced with coming to grips with the reality of their situation they are ill-prepared for.

The film is short on words and offers few insights into enlightening us about the dangers of teen pregnancies and the tough job market for the working-class. But it sets an authentic atmosphere of young love feeling pressured and not having anyone around with wisdom to turn to for help, as it tells its unsentimental tale of a troubled love connection silently through images and through shots of the banalities of everyday life that seemingly are overwhelming to the inarticulate couple.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”