SXSW Features: Silver Bullets dir. Joe Swanberg // Green dir. Sophia Takal

By Dorian Tocker

It’s interesting that my two favorite films from SXSW, Silver Bullets and Green, deal with jealousy in romantic relationships. Is this just a subject I can deeply relate to because I’m a hideously jealous person? Most likely. In any event, despite the similar subject matter, and despite sharing the actress Kate Lyn Sheil, these two films are in fact quite different: the relationships that are depicted, directorial perspectives (male vs. female), visual style, etc.

In Silver Bullets, director Joe Swanberg shows us the complexity of the relationship between director and actress, how the professional can turn into sexual fantasy (and how that fantasy can manifest itself as an inappropriate and hurtful expression that attempts to move the fantasy into reality). The film sets up a comparison between two filmmakers: Joe Swanberg’s character, an ultra-low budget filmmaker named Joe Swanberg, and Ti West’s character, a horror film director named Ti West. (Hmmmm…) West has cast Swanberg’s girlfriend (Kate Lyn Sheil) in his latest werewolf flick, and Swanberg has cast Kate’s best friend (Amy Seimetz) in his latest video experiment. Oh, the drama that ensues. The film culminates in an amazing climax of energy, featuring a hyperactive dance scene from Kate Lyn Sheil, pulsing soundtrack, and a journey into Swanberg’s sexual fantasies (his character’s, not the man himself). Mud-covered werewolf or ruby-lipped blonde?

Kate Lyn Sheil and Joe Swanberg in Silver Bullets

Whereas the fantasies in Silver Bullets create a feeling of elation for Swanberg’s character, the same kind of imaginative energy is oppressive and destructive to Green’s Genevieve (again played by Kate Lyn Sheil).  Shortly after moving to rural Virginia from intellectual (and semi-pretentious) New York City with her boyfriend, Sebastian (played by the director’s hubby, Lawrence Michael Levine), Genevieve begins to imagine that he and their neighbor Robin (played by Takal herself) are making better use of the hammock than she’d like (if you know what I mean). Genevieve’s imagined scenarios are played out in explicit detail, and her irrational thinking leads to even more irrational behavior. With the contrast of pervading nature and relationship-in-turmoil, the film is both meditative and gut-wrenchingly tense. This is a REAL psychosexual thriller—none of that Black Swan bullshit. Just see it already. Okay, the film isn’t available just yet, but when it is…seriously.

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