This may sound slightly perverse, but I believe that some things are just better when they're dark: coffee, chocolate, and comedy. There is something particularly hilarious about the violent dismantling of another human being. It's something that makes you laugh in spite of that tiny voice in your head that says, "You _shouldn't _be laughing at this…"
Based on Morris Panych's eponymous play, Lawrence & Holloman is, as you know the story of hyper-optimist Lawrence and how he takes suicidal sadsack, Holloman under his wing in an effort to introduce him "the sunny side of life." Lawrence, of course, is a giant douchebag, and what follows is the worst bit of life coaching since The Manchurian Candidate. As Holloman begins to chafe at Lawrence's obnoxiousness, the tables turn, and Holloman watches as Lawrence's life falls apart, reaching near-Wagnerian levels of tragedy and hardship.
This is director Matthew Kowalchuk's debut feature, and under his steady hand the film manages to keep control of the narrative and pacing without going off the rails during increasingly absurd plot developments. Often, when a film builds towards its climax by tearing down its characters, the stylistic elements intended to convey mental or physical breakdown can threaten the cohesiveness of the plot. If this happens close enough to the end of the film, it becomes difficult to reconnect with the story. But that doesn't happen here. Even as things go from bad to worse for Lawrence, and Holloman becomes increasingly unhinged, things never reached the point where I completely disengaged.
The film's general steadiness has a lot to do with the world you created. The bleak sets and surroundings; the muddy, dingy palettes; the general sense of lethargy pervading the environment, It's all so very Holloman. The look of the film is decidedly "white bread, baloney," an aesthetic embraced by Holloman (Lawrence is not a fan). The environment immediately put me in a space where I could identify with Holloman's despair and his growing frustration with Lawrence, whose colourful presence is not a welcome respite from the gloom, but a jarring intrusion.
I really appreciated that even when Holloman begins to grow a spine, nothing around him changes. You didn't suddenly make his world brighter, or more airy, or add dashes of colour. In a film that is all about perception, this choice enhances the narrative by focusing attention on the characters. Although the second half of the film is all about horrible things befalling Lawrence, to me it was still Holloman's story, and you allowed it to remain as such. Since I began the film identifying closely with Holloman, I'm glad you didn't force me to stray too far from his point of view. He just doesn't strike me as the type to suddenly wake up to find the sky a brighter shade of blue.
In appreciation of things "white bread, baloney."