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Is Destiny a Matter of Chance or of Choice?

25 February 2010  

It's a question that's been asked since time began.


It is said that we make our choices and then our choices make us. That concept is at the heart of the independent micro-budget thriller “Uncertainty.” This is a movie that explores some important questions about decisions and ultimately doesn't give us any answers – largely because their aren't any to be given. The subject of decision making is one of the most basic questions of life. But most of the time the questions we ask miss the point. We struggle with how to make good decisions on the important questions of life, but how do we recognize the most important decisions when the most mundane ones become incredibly significant.

The decision on whether to go to a friend's party on the 4th of July or spend the day with family seems simple enough, but for Kate and Bobby it launches them onto two completely different paths. The interesting thing about this little drama is they are also wrestling with the question of whether to terminate Kate's pregnancy. Ultimately this seems like the bigger decision, but on this day it forms little more than the subtext to two very different days.

UncertaintyWriter/Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel take the concept of alternate choices and interweave these two stories with the very effective use of the colors yellow and green to keep us grounded in which story we are currently watching. The story has a nice pace and is beautifully filmed on location in New York City. Both stories feel very real, even when the character's choices, especially on the yellow storyline, seem to spin out of control.

Lynn Collins (Kate) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Bobby) give us two excellent performances that draw us into the lives of these characters. Even in the ordinary moments at a family gathering I found myself caring about them and how they interacted with Kate's family. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, best known for as Tommy Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun, has developed into a dependable and engaging actor. He effortlessly moves from the tension of a foot chase through Manhattan to the normal drama laden interactions of a family gathering. Lynn Collins is engaging even when she isn't speaking, the emotions and thoughts of the character are vividly reflected in Kate's every expression. I also enjoyed Olivia Thirlby (Ellen Page's best friend in Juno) as Kate's younger sister. She has a smile that leaps off the screen at you.

 

Ultimately the intertwined story lines will be difficult for some to follow. I found the characters and the story engaging and the performances refreshingly real. The subject of the weight of a decision is not new to the movies, but “Uncertainty” deals with alternate outcomes in a fresh and engaging way.

Uncertainty is screening this week at the Sedona International Film Festival.

Uncertainty trailer

Ron Hammer

When Ron isn't sitting in a dark room with strangers or ranting against 3D, he also writes on his website ronhammer.net and twitter.