Comparisons to Terrence Malick have become lazy critical shorthand for describing visual poetry, but writer-director Justin Owensby’s wounded-hearts drama directly evokes (pilfers?) the impressionistic editing, nostalgic palettes, and gliding magic-hour camera work of The New World or Tree of Life.
Repressed locksmith Alex (Jesse Johnson, son of Don) is a hot mess who copes by chugging cough syrup, huffing paint, and puckishly breaking into cars and hotel rooms as his worldly whims dictate.
The arrival of a letter summons Alex back to his idyllic Colorado Rockies home, where he has fallen out terribly with his childhood buddy Paul (Christopher Masterson, brother of Danny), but all that anguish took place 12 years ago.
During that dreamy summer — gracefully transitioned to and from as a parallel timeline — young Alex (Jordan Potter) and Paul (Alex Saxon) come of age in the form of a love triangle with wholesome, spirited Marie (Caitlin Thompson), irrevocably driving a wedge between the boys.
Mostly due to the assured polish of cinematographer Sean Stiegemeier, Chapman punches above its featherweight budget, but the punch is ultimately pulled as both strands of the narrative intersect with one last reveal of unresolved melodrama that feels coldly calculated in its cause and effect.