By Amanda Gilmore
Successful, married couple James (Y’lan Noel) and Vanessa (Cleopatra Coleman) are shocked at what they witness on the news one night. What they see is cellphone footage of their police officer neighbour, Brian (Justin Hartley), shooting an unarmed youth. After debating what they should do, Vanessa takes the reins and holds Brian hostage.
It’s ironic that it’s called A Lot of Nothing, considering it’s about many things. Co-Writer and Director Mo McRae makes an impact with this bold satirical Feature debut. Playing out over one night, the central story focuses on holding police officer Brian hostage. Hartley is strong as the manipulative Brian. He uses the layered Script to create mystery around his character, causing the audience to question the intent behind his motives.
McRae and fellow Screenwriter Sarah Kelly Kaplan use this central story to create an in-depth character study. Coleman is a force as the wealthy, determined Vanessa. Her commitment to Vanessa’s passion for her expensive material items allows levity on these heavy topics. The tension she shares with James is immense. Noel excels in playing James’ compassion against his desire to make Vanessa happy.
This tension ignites further when A Lot of Nothing introduces James’ brother Jamal (Toronto’s Shamier Anderson) and his expecting partner Candy (Lex Scott Davis). Through these two couples, critiques on wealth and familial acceptance shine through. The extravagance of James and Vanessa conflict with the naturalistic lifestyle of Jamal and Candy. However, when the guests find out what their hosts are doing they become active participants. Particularly Jamal, played to great effect by Canada’s own Anderson, who sees this as an opportunity to get revenge on the police officers who’ve targeted him. And Scott Davis is captivating as the forgiving, aura reading Candy, who has something to hide.
Overall, A Lot of Nothing is an audacious film that touches on many socio-political topics through its exquisitely-written characters.
A Lot of Nothing screens at SXSW ’22 as follows
Sunday, March 13 at 4:45 PM EST – Alamo Lamar D
Monday, March 14 at 1:45 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 2
Monday, March 14 at 2:15 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 4
Friday, March 18 at 4:30 PM EST – Alamo Lamar A
Monday, March 14 at 10:00 AM EST – Available for 48 hours
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