Ben Safdie & Joshua Safdie's Go Get Some Rosemary is an independent film in the vein of John Cassavetes, being a loose narrative that doesn't have much interest in plot plots, instead focusing on its characters and story. The film is centered around Lenny, a 34 year-old father to two children, who is barely living a sustainable existence. When not getting harassed by his boss for his inattentiveness at work, Lenny lives a life of mostly solitude in a small, decrepit apartment. Divorced, Lenny seems repelled by any true sense of responsibility, which makes things a bit complicated when he takes care of his two young sons, Sage and Frey. The opening scene of Go Get Some Rosemary is simplistic, but a perfect example of effective low-budget storytelling, following Lenny as he buys a cheap, footlong hotdog from a small-time vendor. The sequence may seem superfluous to some, but it's the details, such as how he pays for the hotdog with what amounts to loose change, that reveal Lenny as a character. As he leaves the hotdog vendor he attempts to scale a fence, unsuccessfully falling down to the ground and losing his hotdog to the ground in the process. While many adults would shrug their shoulders at their own stupidity, Lenny laughs manically like a child about the situation, than proceeds to consume his hotdog anyway. This opening sequence masterfully captures Lenny as a character, a man of little ambition, who finds himself easily sidetracked from any type of responsibility. Lenny is a character who is essentially a big-child, void of nearly all responsibility, which makes things a tad complicated once a year when he is asked to take care of his two young sons for a few weeks. Go Get Some Rosemary follows the offbeat adventures of Lenny and his two young children, oscillating between Lenny's kindness and tenderness towards his kids and his utter-incompetence whenever he is faced with any type of obstacle. Calling Lenny a competent father would be a bit of a stretch, but Go Get Some Rosemary beautifully balances the line of parental competency, as Lenny is a character who without question cares for his kids, showing tenderness and love towards them, but he is also a character who routinely puts his children in danger, constantly dragging them into situations no father should. The reason Go Get Some Rosemary is such an engaging film is that Lenny as a character seems oblivious to the fact that he is such a poor parent, at times showing an exuberant amount of love for his children while neglecting them in the very next scene. It's almost as if he treats his children like a mutually-aged friend, expecting that they are capable of taking care of themselves while simultaneously loving to spend time with them. Go Get Some Rosemary has the same naturalistic approach one has come to expect from the Safdie brothers, using primarily handheld photography and an intentionally rugged use of focus which gives the film a more gritty, lived-in feel. The aesthetic is especially necessary in a film like this, as this amateurish, gritty aesthetic evokes a visual sense of who Lenny is as a character, a borderline low-life, who inhabits a crummy, rat-infested apartment. It is never stated but one can assume that Lenny has never been the same since the divorce for the mother of his children, falling down a dark hole after finding himself alone, repelling responsibility as a coping device. While Go Get Some Rosemary certainly takes a bit of time to come into focus, this is a compelling film from the Safdie brothers, that is part off-beat comedy, part resonant character study about a character who is defeating himself on a daily basis.
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