There often comes a point when creatives must reconcile dreams with reality: Have things fallen into place? Or is the road to self-actualization still littered with obstacles? In Dim the Fluorescents, playwright Lillian (Naomi Skwarna) and actress Audrey (Claire Armstrong) reckon with the latter.
Director Daniel Warth’s first feature follows the duo as they make the best of their sole paying gig: role-playing workplace training scenarios. Although Lillian and Audrey are stuck dramatizing difficult customers and sexual harassment for handfuls of office drones, these besties dream up demos like it’s their opening night on Broadway. But when they score a corporate gig that allows for a seven-minute opus in front of hundreds, their symbiosis sours.
Warth and Miles Barstead’s screenplay dives heartily into the drudgery of the creative process, despite the occasionally distracting Wes Andersonian effect in both the earnest script and the performers’ delivery: Skwarna embodies Lillian like the Torontonian love child of Max Fischer’s pretentious neurotic and Margot Tenenbaum’s chain-smoking playwright. The film’s examination of the artistic grind is promising, but Dim the Fluorescents clocks in at over two hours, proving tiresome at times. Luckily, Skwarna and Armstrong’s quirky chemistry keeps the lights on in this overlong debut.
Dim the Fluorescents
Directed by Daniel Warth
Opens today, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2018