Beneath the Harvest Sky | Tribeca Film Festival 2014
Beneath the Harvest Sky is a coming of age tale set in small-town Maine. Despite the location, the narrative is not breaking new ground genre wise. Enlisting the talents of Callan McAuliffe and Emory Cohen to “move” viewers for nearly two hours, such daunting elements are apt to cause weak films to fail – and critics to fear for the worst.
Beneath the Harvest Sky follows Dominic and Casper, two best friends living the typical small town life in northern Maine. Dominic is a relatively straight arrow compared to rabble rouser buddy Casper. The day before Harvest Week – the annual potato harvest that supersedes school – Casper is threatened with expulsion if his manners fail to improve. The choice to return to classes is his, the guidance counselor emphasises. Amid this reflective turmoil, Casper is further troubled by the revelation of his 15-year-old girlfriend’s pregnancy. Dominic, on the other hand, is excited for the potato harvest as it is a chance to become one paycheck closer to the car of his dreams. But teenage temptation and the precarious lifestyle of his best friend making following the straight and narrow a difficult task.
The prominent distinction of Beneath the Harvest Sky is the region. Undoubtedly filmed on location in far north Maine, it is difficult not to see a remanent of Canadian influence in every frame. Each person, place and road sign detail a hearty canuck influence. With such emphasis brings a responsibility to avoid a contrived – thus false – image. This is achieved by unwavering dedication to the entrenched environment. Much like another festival favourite, Zero Motivation, this film works within an established genre to accurately portray a rarely seen territory.
Emory Cohen and Callan McAuliffe are a fun duo. Their small town antics reek of parochial banality, but also delight viewers in the same breath. Foreigners to the northern surroundings – McAuliffe an Australian native while Cohen a New Yorker – the accented tongue of the two is poetically brusque. While Cohen is afforded (slightly) more screen time, the presence of McAuliffe is a nice and necessary balance. W Earl Brown and Sandra Sutherland, as drug-smuggling Rodger and Dominic’s harvest friend, also deserve mention.
Team Aron Gaudet and Gita Pulapilly tackle the writing, directing and editing of Beneath the Harvest Sky. Their premier narrative feature, the duo prove that the helm of filmmaking can be utilised by more than one set of hands. With a tight script and dazzling editing, Gaudet and Pulapilly only find trouble in the proclivity for melodramatics. Thankfully, it takes nearly the entire film for these few faults to come into fruition. With a handful of shorts and a feature documentary already on the resume, life after this looks promising.
Viewers of Beneath the Harvest Sky will laugh as much as cry. The small-town life of northern Maine exudes an eeriness that manages to keep interest for the nearly two-hour running time. With a tight script, assimilated actors and exploratory editing, Beneath the Harvest Sky may be the best fiction film of Tribeca 2014.
Beneath the Harvest Sky is released nationwide on 25th April 2014, for further information visit here.