Making a living as a musician can be tough at the best of times. Strumming those strings every moment you possibly can, learning to sing and play - and grinding grinding grinding. Your payment? Being treated as a second class form of entertainment - unless by some miracle, you can generate a huge following. One could argue that hard work is what makes a following - and it is... but not nearly as much as one thinks. It pretty tough to ask your friends to come out to every gig you play. According to the owner of the bar you're entertaining within, it's not about talent one bit. It's about the crowd that follows you. Whatever happened to simply being responsible for the entertainment of the establishment's clients already there? Or to attract walk-ins? Why does it seem to fall on the musician to always bring their friends? They're musicians, not promoters. It's not fair. It's not right - but it's the truth of the business. Making the artists life even harder? Shitty owners that use you as a dumping board - and the occasional customer who wants a piece of you. It's not an easy life, but it's a great back-bone for a story.
Now... what happens if all of the above is only a minor concern, compared to the struggles you face within? What do you do... if not only are you a gigging musician, but also have massive anxiety? Especially when faced with a crowd of people? It sure sounds like putting yourself on stage every night may not be the best career choice? Right? But consider that it's what you've always wanted, and this level of social anxiety is a relatively new problem? What then? Give up on your dreams? Throw all that hard work back into your guitar case... forever? Welcome to the Lenny's life. A struggling, yet aspiring musician with some real talent and major anxiety issues. Dreams Vs reality Vs healing and overcoming. This about sums up "Anticipation" from writer, director Peter Renzullo.
First and foremost, let me write this. "Anticipation" is definitely not a technically perfect production, but it's a great story with an ass-load of heart. And that heart comes through loud and clear. Although this film uses music as a set piece, that's essentially all it is. Background noise helping create the world Peter Renzullo intended. That may be a little unfair, because music is a huge piece of this film. But it only acts as a support for, what I considered, the true story. I don't want to give much away, but aside from being about social anxiety - that much is already obvious, "Anticipation" is a film about overcoming. Overcoming the hardships of life but more importantly, finally putting aside all the excuses a person usually makes for themselves. You read that right... I'm talking about self sabotage.
And that's just the thing isn't it? The thing that makes a story so endearing and powerful. Taking the obvious, and turning it into an excuse for something else. "Anticipation" starts off focusing on music, and introducing us to a man who appears to simply be shy and socially anxious. However, self sabotage really is the name of the game, and technically, "Anticipation" is that story. But for me, there was still more to it. What happened prior to Lenny's introduction to us viewers, and what causes Lenny's current state of mind, is a huge part of the story. But this film also focuses on what Lenny does to himself in the aftermath. His self inflicted punishment for something that really wasn't his fault. This film is about healing, and that really made this story a great one.
So where do things fall a little? For starters, this film is bloated. At times even a little redundant. A lot of the redundancy could have been removed with a tighter edit, and I honestly believe that with a ten or fifteen+ minute cut to the length - the pacing would have felt just right, while still maintaining the core story. Then there's also a lot of awkward scene transitions, that pulled me out of the film. Strange time choices for things like fades. Also, as expected with an indie low budget flick, the visuals were hit and miss. More hit than miss by the way, and also worth noting? The great audio overall. Much better than I'm used to - when it comes to low budget film.
"Anticipation" also features a very large cast, so let me just write this. The acting, especially from our leading man Lenny, was actually quite good. Real and believable from everyone it felt like. Especially when you consider some of the more dramatic scenes, and even some of the more... brutal ones near the end. I'm more than a little amazed at the performances all across the board. Excellent job!
At the end of the day, "Anticipation" easily kept my interest - and save a few technical issues, really did what it was meant to do. It entertained me. For almost two hours. Renzullo and his troupe presented a story that felt real, and even a little to close to home for comfort. But that's the idea. Right? So unless you really don't like a good story, or some great performances, I see no reason you won't enjoy this film. It's a little cliche to write - that it's not exactly what you think... but it isn't. A solidly earned three and a half out of five stars.
PS : You'd think this film would be completely loaded with music... but it isn't. However, what you do get to hear? Frikkin' awesome.