“The Independents” is a semi-true story of the formation of the band The Sweet Remains, and stars the real-life members of the band Rich Price, Greg Naughton, and Brian Chartrand as fictionalized versions of themselves. Naughton also writes and directs, with Boyd Gaines, James Naughton, Keira Naughton, Kelli O’Hara, Chris Sullivan, George Wendt, and Richard Kind also starring.
I typically like these small films that feel “real,” with the best way I can describe this is a mix between “Sideways” and last year’s “The Climb.” We have seen the “struggling artists come together for one last shot at fame” story a hundred times before and this doesn’t make any attempt to break the mold, but thanks to some genuine performances, humorous writing, and toe-tapping songs, this film mostly works.
The three main stars each play a different stereotype we typically find in the genre, with Greg Naughton playing the stoner with marital problems, Rich Price acting as a man who thinks he missed the boat and is stuck teaching a college course, and Brian Chartrand as the care-free spirit (who may or may not be close to homelessness). The three share some solid chemistry (they are real-life friends, after all), and when they do have conflict it is not overtly contrived.
The three-man harmony isn’t a genre of music we hear too often these days (a point made in the film by Richard Kind’s agent character), and the melodies are soft and warm.
The film shows the emotional toll that trying to chase your dreams can take on a person and their relationships, and even if it is a bit rushed and open-ended by the end of the film, sometimes it isn’t about the destination so much as the journey. “The Independents” is an independent film that is easy to watch and forgive the flaws, because you can sense the passion the crew had while making it. In a world where capes and creatures dominate our screens, sometimes a small-scale humanistic story is refreshing, even while familiar.
Critics Rating: 7/10