The plot is familiar, if not a bit standard at this point: two strangers – each at a point of personal crisis in their own lives – bump into each other in a small town and finally pair up, choosing to spend the day getting involved in poignant and possibly silly exploits while slowly learning about each other and growing ever closer. Melanie (Nora Tschirner), a German expat with a sense of humor drier than the Mojave desert, keeps bumping into Ray (Rob Knighton) the morning after an epic party that ended in her being left alone by her consistently absent boyfriend Richard. Ray is back in his hometown after 40 years to pay his respects to his dead brother and carry out a bit of shady business for a possibly criminal boss. The two pair up and roam the quiet streets of their seaside town, their conversations ranging from pleasant to philosophical to profound in equal turns.
Lo-fi in its lensing, this film is still beautiful to look at. The camera stays close to its subjects, determined to capture every moment in full detail. There’s a dreamy quality that comes through as well – recalling the aesthetic of Sofia Coppola’s films at times – that further adds to the seeming mysticism of whats truly at stake and in flux for each of our leads. Add to this some seriously astute and comic writing and there’s just no turning back. Jones’ script excels in the prime directive of screenwriting: “Show, don’t tell”. They give us just enough in dialogue to stay apprised but keep us hungry to know whats truly at stake for Melanie and Ray. Plus, there are some genuinely tickling moments of levity that come in at just the right time, often when things take a turn for the morose.
One standout moment sees Ray at the home of his sister-in-law, who believes her dead husband (Ray’s brother) has come back in the form of a cat. In one fell swoop, as Ray reaches into his coat pocket for his cell phone, his handgun (relating back to his ominous “day job”) slips out, hits the floor, and kills the cat. Cut Ray bagging the cat and trying to sneak it out of the house before anyone sees and there may be a chuckle or two from the audience in the process. But the most effective aspect of Everyone’s Going to Die are the performances. Tschirner and Knighton are in top form here. Veering away from potentially trope-like characterisations, they effectively navigate the true depths of fear, loneliness and need for connection that their characters require. Every moment, no matter the sting of solemnity or hug of warmth, is performed naturally and honestly, causing both actors to shine onscreen.
Ultimately, Everyone’s Going to Die is the indie film we never knew we needed: poignant and thoroughly engaging, this is one that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.