SXSW 2016 Film Review: Black Mountain Poets

SXSW 2016 Film Review: Black Mountain Poets
Black Mountain Poets is a creative concept with mass potential, but results in being a compelling failure of a film.

Writing is everything in a film. Directors and actors receiving the vast amount of credit, but if a film is well written, it is difficult for it to fail. That doesn’t mean we need intriguing and never before seen content, it comes down to the details. For Black Mountain Poets, they were missing just that, the details. This feature follows the lives of two sisters: Lisa(Alice Lowe) and Claire(Dolly Wells). These two women are neurotic and mischievous, we find then as they are attempting to commit some sort of crime, it isn’t clear what, and they are spotted so they flee the seen. From this moment viewing the film you’re simply never drawn to these characters. You learn more about them throughout the film but nothing ever sticks. We catch up with the sisters running out of gas as they are driving up Black Mountain, leaving them no choice but to steal a car to keep moving. This feature is intended to be a Comedy as well as Drama, so you would think grand theft auto would be the type of scene in a film that could be hilarious or at the very least, suspenseful. Nope, not so much, in as dull of a way as possible, they manage to get away with the car belonging to the Wilder sisters, internationally renowned poets on their way to a poetry retreat. The sisters decide to attend the retreat while they wait for a contact to help them, and pose as the Wilder sisters, thus creating the theme for the majority of the film

I’ve got a real issue with the way that Black Mountain Poets is written, in that, the film is lacking any intellect to it’s writing. Aside from a few clever jokes the narrative unfolds unevenly, and painstakingly dreary. The characters aren’t deep, we learn everything about them instantly and they never change, at least not too much. Conceptually they had minimal to work with, as the idea of two women attending a poetry retreat whilst impersonating someone else and then finding their true selves is exactly as uninteresting as it sounds. I’m convinced Tom Cullen’s role as Richard is there simply to look at, as his idea of acting is to smile in the most charming way possible every time they inform him that he’s on camera. What really could have saved this film was some decent cinematography work,  unfortunately it failed to even do that. With such a beautiful landscape to work with, they mostly shot bleak and dark scenes, leaving it as visually boring as the plot line is.

It is truly a shame when you see independent films fail such as I believe Black Mountain Poets has. As a lover of film, and a lover of film festivals, I never want to see a feature have a bad finished product. This is a U.K. film, and I think it is safe to say we won’t be seeing any US theatrical releases for this narrative.

Official Trailer:

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