Everything Strange and New Conveys the Intimacy of Reading a Diary


“Now, with the economy, our house is worth less than what we owe.” Sound familiar? The guy complaining is Wayne (Jerry McDaniel), a Bay Area construction worker with a stay-at-home wife (Beth Lisick) and two small boys. Wayne takes the bus to work, where he compares marital woes with his boss and best buddy on the crew. But he also speaks to us in long voiceover passages, often set to street-scene montages, with a rueful self-awareness that removes this odd, unadorned little film from mere naturalism: “It’s not the life we thought we were signing up for when we got married.” Everything Strange and New is a mostly unaffected chronicle of the slide from middle-class dreams and youthful freedom—except for one fatal mistake by writer-director-cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw, who literalizes his hero’s sense of creeping humiliation with a recurring fantasy motif. It’s so bad that I won’t describe it, because there’s much else to recommend about this debut indie feature. The look, texture, and soundtrack remain uncluttered as Wayne’s feelings grow more scrambled, and his buddies’ lives turn out to be not as rosy as he thought. The film conveys the intimate sense of reading a diary and provides no more consolation than we feel in writing in our own.