Projections - Movie Reviews

What Happened Was

This film was first brought to my attention when it appeared in the Boston Film Festival earlier this year.  Tom Noonan, who wrote, directed and acted in the film, was rewarded with the Grand Jury prize and another award for his screenwriting at this year's Sundance Film Festival.  This acclaim, coupled with my strong interest in the film's "First Date" theme, lured me to a distant theater for a late Tuesday night screening of this gem.

Michael (Tom Noonan) and Jackie (Karen Sillas) met at the law firm where Michael is employed as a paralegal and Jackie as a secretary.  They've been attracted to each other for some time and the film allows us a "fly on the wall" perspective of their first date, in all its awkwardness.

The acting is superb and we become fully acquainted with Michael and Jackie (the film's only characters) by the film's end.  Both Noonan and Sillas are experts in relaying to the audience the private thoughts and feelings of their characters.  Set exclusively in Jackie's Manhattan apartment, we are able to observe, without distraction, the characters every move and emotion.

Their hilarious small talk and desperate attempts to relate to and impress one another will have you in stitches.  Eager to keep the conversation going, Michael and Jackie walk unsuspecting into the mine field of office gossip.  Stories and remarks that are amusing to one clearly hit a nerve with the other.  The unabashed delight evident in the hearty laugh of a fellow moviegoer (there were only three of us in the theater) greatly enhanced my appreciation of the film's humor.

With What Happened Was, Noonan has shown the simple delights of mutual attraction as well as the more daunting task of clearing away one's first impressions and projected hopes to uncover the authentic human being behind the orchestrated facade of the other.  Michael and Jackie could be any of us.  The uncomplicated, positive surface qualities that each possess has brought them together.  But, each is dismayed, and clearly disappointed to discover they are not alone in their frailties.  My curiosity is indeed piqued regarding their future encounters.  If only we could each be a fly on the wall when they cross paths at work on Monday!

What Happened Was


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