FSM, an official selection of the 2016 Portland Film Festival, follows the daily struggles of Samantha, a DJ living in Vancouver BC, as she tries to balance a career and a dating scene that hasn't been doing her any favors. Directed by Melanie M. Jones, the movie features acting performances from Vanessa Crouch, Sean Aiken, Georgie Daburas, Daniel Mallinson, Jessica Heafey, Kyla Wise, Hannah Pederson, Nneka Croal, and Garrett Black.
Emotionally powerful. Fun. Raw. Authentic. Just a few words I would use to describe this debut feature film from writer, director, producer, artist, teacher, and sculptor, Ms. Melanie M. Jones. I love how she takes the lead character Samantha, played beautifully by Vanessa Crouch, through a journey of struggle and discovery, ultimately leaving her with a more authentic and self expressed version of herself which opens up a whole world of possibility. It was really easy to step into this world as it just feels so real and the characters feel like people you've known all your life. I also love the fact that this movie was filmed in Vancouver BC which, for me, made watching it a bit like getting to visit a friendly neighbor that I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like.
At this point in my review, I have a bit of a confession to make. While watching the film, I kind of, sort of developed maybe just a bit of a crush on Vanessa Crouch's Samantha who is such a perfectly flawed human being. She is just so freaking adorable, I wanted to hug her during the bad times, high five her during the good times, and I just wanted to be there for her every step of the way. During those rare moments when I wasn't giving Samantha my undivided attention, I was also noticing some really strong performances from Sean Aiken as Sam's one man support network who also gets mad props for all the Star Wars references and Jessica Heafey who plays Sam's sister Allison and provides a couple pretty powerful moments during her small amount of time on screen.
I almost came across this film by accident as I was looking at this year's festival schedule and, even though there was very little information available, it just felt like something I needed to watch. Thankfully, I made the right decision and watching the film turned out to be such an unexpectedly special experience. When a story is this good and you have a cast and crew determined to make a great film, you don't need all the big budget bells and whistles to get it done. You just need a creative space to work with and an extra helping of authenticity.
FSM is a really good movie. Thank you to everyone involved for making it.
Check out my "TwoOhSix Picks" article to see what other films you don't want to miss out on during the 2016 Portland Film Festival. Thanks for reading and enjoy the festival!