It’s all too easy to put a twentysomething protagonist through the motions of a quarter-life crisis and insist you’ve had an idea, which is what writer-director Bryan Reisberg does with Big Significant Things.
Here, a young man who’s preparing to move to San Francisco with his girlfriend takes a sudden detour to the South and trolls for roadside attractions like the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket while she believes he’s on a work trip. Whether or not you believe in the possibilities of millennial road trip films, it’s tough to take much interest in Reisberg’s protagonist, Craig (Harry Lloyd), a simpering liar whose one good trait is the persistence with which he wheedles his way into conversation with every bored Southerner he encounters.
Reisberg assumes we’ll believe that in “real life” (as in, when he’s not deceiving anyone about his whereabouts) Craig isn’t this selfish, but watching him lie, cheat on his girlfriend, and enthusiastically provide beer to teenagers says otherwise.
The British actor and Game of Thrones expat Lloyd is also an awkward fit for Craig, his stiff posture and smirking mannerisms less charming than suggestive of ulterior motives. It would be unfair to blame that on Lloyd’s nationality, though it still seems safe to bet that Craig would’ve been more likable with an accent.
One bright spot is cinematographer Luca Del Puppo’s well-balanced photography — he knows what Americana should look like, and capably documents the sleepy Southern locales where Craig stops to contemplate his own existence.
A shot toward the end of the film lands him in front of a giant illuminated neon star, the camera behind him craning upward toward something — anything — that exists beyond this crippling mundanity.
Big Significant Things
Written and directed by Bryan Reisberg
Opens July 24, Cinema Village
Available on demand
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 21, 2015