Emily Bennett, John-Patrick Driscoll
I know a person like this. You probably do as well. A person like the protagonist of this film Joel - who can easily and quickly put on his blinders and see nothing but his goal. Obsessive. I'm sure it can be said that this quality helped land him his job as a professor. It's also the very reason he was fired. Obsession is a good thing when you can produce results - not so much when what you're searching for remains elusive. Such as a lost manuscript.
With the smoking gun always just around the corner, it seems everyone in Joel's life is getting fed up with his fruitless search. People can only take so much neglect before writing someone off. This is where Joel finds himself, as we begin "What Was Lost" from writers Emily Bennett and John-Patrick Driscoll. His hunt for the elusive manuscript has made him indifferent to the people around him. He's become somewhat of a joke at work - and is fired. His wife Brandi has been having an affair - and he's still not really any closer to reaching his goal. It's only when his life is coming apart, he realizes what his single minded nature has cost him... and the day isn't over yet! By the end of the film, we're left with one burning question. Even if a person is successful - is it all worth it? Are failure or success really only words? No matter the outcome, what is considered an acceptable attitude when living your life? Because it doesn't matter if you win, lose or draw... it's the attention we give, to the people in our lives, that really defines us. The proverbial recipe for success.
Don Swanson, who directed, manages to hone in on the good elements of this story. The person Joel is, comes through loud and clear and for the most part, John-Patrick Driscoll manages a mostly convincing performance - of a man who's practically given up. There's something about his expressions and mannerisms that summarize his character quickly and easily. A man who is grasping his surroundings a little late in the game. Elsa Carette as Joel's wife Brandi also seems to nail her character. Although hers is one you make not like exactly. Being the cheating wife never puts one on the favorite list, but Elsa does manage to convey both the thrill of being caught, and the slight pang of guilt she must be feeling. Emotions explode and everything comes out - all highlighted for our viewing pleasure. There was a slightly awkward vibe within the scene where Joel returns home during the day, nothing overly serious though.
The visuals of "What Was Lost" definitely help with the atmosphere. Maybe a little raw around the edges but generally speaking, the film plays fairly decently. Clocking in at around twenty minutes, things never feel overly long or draggy.
When the credits hit my screen I had one unmistakable feeling. A sense of pity. Not for the film, but rather for Joel himself. "What Was Lost" really does make you ask the question it represents. Is it worth it? I'm not going to spoil the the results of Joel's hunt but no matter the outcome, the question remains the same - and it's a tough one. It's easy to say obsession is worth it - when the results are good. But what about when they are not? In my humble opinion? A solid three and a half stars.