Films: Natural Causes

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Natural Causes

Natural Causes

USA, 2008, 91 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Coming of Age, Drama
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, New Directors Showcase
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Alex Cannon, Paul Cannon, Michael Lerman
Producer: Alex Cannon, Michael Lerman, Paul Cannon
Editor: Alex Cannon, Michael Lerman, Paul Cannon
Screenwriter: Alex Cannon, Paul Cannon
Cinematographer: Asif Siddiky
Principal Cast: Jerzy Gwiazdowski, Leah Goldstein, Shonda Leigh Robbins, Peter Davenport Swan II

Snippets of both a whirlwind romance and a long-term relationship are pieced together in this alternately charming and harrowing portrait of the vagaries of love, which follows David (Jerzy Gwiazdowski) as he falls first for Shaina (Shonda Leigh Robbins) and then for her roommate Cara (Leah Goldstein, who is Gwiazdowski’s girlfriend in real life). The six-day fling with Shaina flames out for reasons David doesn’t understand. He’s endearingly vulnerable as he gets to know the playful Cara, sharing with her his fears after their rather sudden first sexual encounter: Does she sleep around? Will she trash him to her friends? Unfortunately, as things progress, she begins playing on such insecurities—which therefore only increase. Eventually, the cycle spins itself out.

Combining a nonlinear plot that imitates the way memory works with compelling visuals that speak as clearly as the dialogue, the drama unfolds in discrete moments: David and Shaina meet; David and Cara get to know each other; they share a sweet nothing here, a conversation that goes all wrong there, and a long series of silent moments in a hotel room. Toward the end we witness an early warm exchange in bed, in counterpoint to what we know of their love’s demise.

Evocative of Closer (only with more likeable characters), Natural Causes was cocreated by three writer-directors (brothers Paul and Alex Cannon and Michael Lerman), who wrote it in six weeks in the wake of their own painful breakups. The trio is currently collaborating on four other feature-length films.

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