29 To Life: A Movie Review
29 To Life may not be Clerks or Slacker but Alex Magaña delivers a stellar Indie Offering.
Written, directed, filmed, and every other title you can cast on an indie film-maker Alex Magaña, presents 29 To Life, a quirky rom-com with a mix of an unconventional coming of age tale featuring Murphy Martin and Diane Solis.
29 to Life (2018)
Barnaby (Martin) is a sad sack with a culinary degree. After a break up with his girlfriend and then his parents, Barnaby finds himself out of work and homeless – forced to live in his car and taking showers at the beach.
The first 15 minutes of this film was a bit of a slog, as a reviewer, I always watch movies to the bitter end, but 29 to Life nearly tested my patience.
Murphy Martin seemed way out of his depth as the lead; his deadpan felt like a poor mans Jon Heder. The choice of music is also perplexing: it feels like a free sound cloud song that just continuously loops.
Despite this, the witty dialogue kept me engaged enough to see where this film would go. Shit, I sat through plenty of Double Dare reviews. Can 29 To Life be worse than Poolboy – Drowning Out The Fury??
Thankfully it was not.
Hitting Its Stride.
Once Barnaby runs into Madison (Diana Solis) at their high school reunion, the film starts to take off. Solis’ engaging performance helps shoulder the load for Martin who is better with her presence.
Their dynamic is nothing new – a slacker that needs a gentle push from a love interest to reach his potential. Garden State, Dazed And Confused and to some extent Napoleon Dynamite comes to mind. 29 To Life doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of those films but does admirably inserting itself in the genre.
Ultimately the 29 To Life ends up where you expect it to, with some highs and lows along the way.
The dialogue is amazing. Despite some poor execution with an inexperienced cast. Alex Magana shows he has the chops to write a clever dialogue-heavy film much like Kevin Smith.
The Cinematography is top notch. For an Indie film with a limited budget, 29 To Life looks incredible. You wouldn’t be wrong to confuse it with a studio film.
Diana Solis’ performance. Solis’ performance hands down saves this film. She is engaging and elevates Martin’s dry performance as Barnaby.
Martin is not ready for prime time. To be fair he had his moments, but I can’t tell if he was trying too hard or not hard enough.
Pacing. 29 To Life could have been much shorter and I don’t think anyone would have minded. There was too much filler that had no part in the story, and the film would have benefited from a more snappy pace.
The Music. Look I love SoundCloud, but it doesn’t mean I would score a film with it.
Despite 29 To Life’s flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. If you are a Rom-Com Aficionado, this is a must see. If you are looking for up and coming directors, 29 To Life’s Alex Magana is your man. For the rest, it is an excellent film on many fronts, but your mileage may vary.
As a fan of cinema, I love what he did here. It’s not perfect but shows flashes of greatness.
29 To Life is an impressive first offering by Alex Magana and I suggest you check it out for free on Amazon Prime.