Sitting not terribly far beneath the surface of Apart is the best young adult movie you've ever seen. There are times-more than a few of them-that movie almost managed to come bubbling to the surface. Rottinghaus, normally an assistant editor (he has recently had a steady gig on the hit TV show Big Love), went very, very ambitious with his directorial debut. He almost succeeded. The story, which he co-wrote with male lead Josh Danziger, could have probably used another rewrite or two to help knock some of the less coherent bits into line; that would have made this into something that would have had a very, very good chance of landing pretty high up on my thousand-best list. Yes, the movie under the surface here is that good. Unfortunately, it has a nasty habit of shooting itself in the foot. That doesn't mean you shouldn't watch it-in fact, I think you probably should, and sooner rather than later-but you may well end up as frustrated as I was at getting the movie we got given how often you can see the movie we should have had.
Noah (Danziger, whose only other big-screen appearance to date came in 2006's The Lonely Ones) has been Away, in the sense that one is Away in movies, for some time. He has recently returned to his childhood hometown, of which he has no memory whatever. High school is just as much fun as it is anywhere, else, but soon he encounters Emily (High School Musical's Olesya Rulin), and suddenly he has a reason to go to high school. She, on the other hand, seems to want nothing to do with him, and Noah assumes it's just a case of unrequited infatuation. Until, that is, Emily lets slip during an emotional outburst that she knew Noah Before, in the sense that one has Before in movies. Suddenly, Noah has a link to his mysterious past, and he sets about trying to unlock a mystery he had given up on ever understanding.
A lot of good ideas here, but the script stumbles in a number of places. It occurred to me more than once while I was watching that the co-writers should have had a solid, underrated YA author-Mara Purnhagen or Pete Hautman or someone comparable-go over the script before they finalized it to check plot and pacing. Some of the more questionable scenes could have been streamlined, a few unanswered questions would have been wrapped up, etc. What's here will likely be more appealing to those who can recognize and appreciate the potential in a script, but what's here is not bad at all. ** 1/2
One line summary: Two defective children are bad for each other and those around them.
In the first half or so of the film, we follow Noah around as he tries to remember his past. He's lost much of his memory in some acute personal event. Several people assure him that this is a good thing. He looks for Emily, finds her, gets past her thorny personality and direct resistance to visiting the past.
Supposedly Emily and Noah are linked by a psychiatric disorder which lets them know each other's minds. Even worse, they see visions of bad things happening to those around them. It's tough for Noah to recall. For similar reasons, it's tough for Emily as well. Even worse, they are not able to ward off the bad things happening.
The first such event was when they were around eight years old; the second around when they were high school seniors. The first was a bus crash. The two of them recuperate, more or less, in the same hospital. The second was a fire, the culmination of a sequence of unfortunate events during late high school.
All this is nonsense, and assigned to folie à deux, or induced delusional disorder. In this case, "She's crazy and made me do it," or "He's crazy and made me do it." The simpler explanation is "He is crazy and she is crazy." So, own up to it and get them off the streets: two crazy people are over-indulged and allowed to hurt others unnecessarily.
Cinematography: 10/10 Fine work. Amazingly good considering the foulness of the screenplay and most of the acting.
Sound: 10/10 No problems.
Acting: 3/10 The veteran actor Bruce McGill delivered as usual. The rest of the cast was terrible. The two principals were the worst. The three points are for Mr. McGill.
Screenplay: 0/10 This was a rat's nest of nonsense of endless re-interpretations. The script is as bad as the acting of the two principals. There is about five minutes of content stretched over 85 minutes. Rotten Tomatoes got it right at 11%.
A movie about two lovers becoming victim of Folie à deux (Induced delusional disorder (F.24) ICD-10) is a great notion on the paper but somehow it didn't translate well onscreen.
Apart moves chronically and at times non-chronically, which makes it's really confusing. When you choose a topic as confusing as (F.24) ICD-10 its better to move the movie in more sensible manner. Olesya Rulin does her part well coming out from Disney movies. Josh Danziger is expressionless most of the times. And all emotions seems same on his face he was as miserable after the accident as he was before. FYI if you have wrote the movie it doesn't give you the permission to star in it as well.
Overall, Apart makers were thinking they' were making something indie phenomena but unfortunately it became indie disappointment.
Psychological thrillers are very dear to me as are any films that try to turn your brain upside down during the course of its duration. While Apart is certainly no psychological thriller, the constant jumping back and forth between reality and delusions does get a bit disorienting. Apart is visually fairly appealing. Its sense of perspective, camera work, and use of both color and filters makes everything not only easy on the eyes but discernibly memorable. The absence of color and the use of warm colors such as yellow or orange really make particular scenes stand out both in the way the scenes were filmed and the way they coincide with the story. Lighting is also something to pay attention to. Things always seem to get brighter during delusions while something like the dance Noah and Emily (Olesya Rulin) share barely uses any light at all.
The delusions are what catered to my taste the most. While it does seem a bit difficult at first to identify what's taking place in the present, the past, and what's a delusion, it becomes easier as the film progresses. Snow, blood, and extremely bright lights are prominently featured in delusions, warm colors usually identify the past, and the absence of colors usually identifies the present. The way everything unravels is a bit reminiscent of Memento (without things being shown to you in reverse). To be honest though, Apart could remind you of any film featuring memory loss from Jackie Chan's Who Am I? to The Butterfly Effect and everything in between.
Apart progresses at a steady pace that keeps your interest, but there are a few things that don't really sit well with you. It mostly involves the ending, but both Noah and Emily make some pretty lame decisions that seem to battle common sense while the ending itself is pretty open ended. While some may see it as a positive thing where it could mean this or that or the other thing, others will be disappointed that Apart doesn't wrap everything up for you in a nice little package. I was left with a lot of questions. Then something dawned on me after it ran around in my brain for awhile, but questions and definitive answers are somewhat left up in the air.
Apart has a really fascinating concept that is even more intriguing since it's based on this rare condition that actually exists. It's one of the most awkward love stories ever told as delusions and memory loss stand in the way of this high school romance that never fully had the chance to blossom. It's beautifully filmed and parallels to the likes of American Beauty and Memento should hold your interest, but Apart's biggest flaw is that it's never fully capable of capitalizing on its extremely original premise. However, it is still a worthy watch thanks to its strong acting and superb delusion sequences that confuse you in the best of ways.