If you’re looking for highly polished filmmaking, you won’t find it in Breakthrough Weekend, a micro-indie from Brooklyn–based filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake: The camera work is rudimentary, the sound is lousy, and the acting, for the most part, is just a few notches above what you see in homespun TV ads for local furniture dealers.
But Breakthrough Weekend has audacity and poker-faced wit on its side; its wayward pacing and peculiar rhythms recall early Jim Jarmusch, though it has a New York–centric spirit all its own.
The picture, which Ekanayake wrote, directed, shot, and edited (with a crew, according to the credits, of about five people), tracks two days in the life of a guy who’s part private detective, part lifestyle guru, Sal Vulpes (Damien Bosco, who comes off as a cross between Pee-wee Herman and John Turturro), and the sidekick he’s just taken on, frustrated novelist Yevgeny (Sean Bempong).
Yevgeny needs to make a little scratch, but he’s also, like so many of us, just looking for answers in life. Sal just may have a few of those answers up his sleeve, considering how many problems he solves in the course of a weekend: He catches a real-estate broker’s cheating boyfriend in the act; he serves as dating coach for a brother-sister couple trying to kick the incest thing; and he gets a wizard to withdraw a nasty spell he’s cast on his writing partner. (The two have been putting together a history of film — it was a heated argument about the significance of mumblecore that sparked the voodoo curse.)
It’s all pretty weird, and yet not as weird as it sounds. Ekanayake’s deadpan approach makes every event seem comically reasonable, especially for New York, a place that’s much, much stranger than paradise.