It's a practice to cast friends in independent films—it's free and if your friends are also filmmakers, their appearance does double duty as PR—and if your social/professional circle is on the rise, your film could read like a veritable who's-who of Hipsterati. That's the case with Alex Ross Perry's The Color Wheel, a film about how outwardly alienating our circles are (much to the detriment of our careers) and how caustic our supposedly nurturing intimacies can be at the same time. If you believe what you see here, everyone in the Northeast is petulant, either because they're regressing or painstakingly going through the motions of "adulthood." If you're looking for parents, you won't find them. JR (Carlen Altman) and Colin (writer/director Alex Ross Perry) are siblings in their mid-20s. Colin is leaving for a few days to drive his semi-estranged sister to remove her belongings from her ex-boyfriend's place. His girlfriend Zoe (Ry Russo-Young, You Won't Miss Me, Nobody Walks) must hate him; his smile-filled sex-begging is excruciating and does nothing to tear her from her magazine. JR's romantic relationship with her professor (Bob Byington, Harmonie and Me, Someone Up There Likes Me) was enough to shame the family and over the course of the film there's a going joke about the things JR was "too much of a bummer" to be invited to: dinners, vacations, funerals. When they stumble across some high school friends throwing a party they finally demonstrate mutual care, and we see how their union is both dismissible and solid bedrock—where else can you find that? The collegiate periphery, the playacting and oddly veiled contempt evoke Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (if rewritten as a comedy about immaturity and starring tweens) while the quick-and-sharp sibling dynamics are like the Duplass Brothers on lemon juice. JR and Colin sound like they hate each other but the backbiting is foundational; it holds them upright. After JR takes the boxes from her ex-boyfriend/professor's place, and Colin passively protects her against her fake-father-figure, it's revealed JR needed Colin to go with her because he's the other man—always has been.
Distributor: Factory 25
Cast: Carlen Altman, Alex Ross Perry, Ry Russo-Young, Bob Byington, Kate Lyn Shell
Director/Producer: Alex Ross Perry
Screenwriters: Carlen Altman, Alex Ross Perry
Running time: 87 min.
Release date: May 18 NY