'Hamilton'

Regional indie cinema, at least of the American variety, has deservedly gotten a bad rap in recent years. First-timer Matthew Porterfield's Hamilton (named for the director's Maryland hometown) avoids the narrative contrivances of many recent forays into Americana—by virtually avoiding narrative. Plotless in the best sense, Hamilton is essentially a couple uneventful days in the lives of young parents Joe and Lena and their extended family. Utilizing lots of long takes, minimal camera movement, and most importantly, Scott Martin's ambient sound design, Hamilton immerses itself in the summertime rhythms of one particular blue-collar Baltimore suburb, playing out in uninterrupted chunks of real time. There's comparatively little dialogue throughout, but a simmering uneasiness becomes visible in moments of near stillness, as when a restless Joe, unable to sleep, whiles away the night hours with video games. A car ride finds Joe and his mother sitting silently through a radio song that neither appears to be enjoying in a scene that registers a disconnect between the characters and the currents of mass culture that transcends red-state/blue-state cliché. But in the end this movie's less about these people than the town in which they live, a curious amalgam of urban and rural landscapes whose very singularity is the whole point of regionalism.

 
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