SXSW Film Review – Easy Living
Easy Living is really a misnomer for the current status of Sherry Graham (Caroline Dhavernas). She is a door-to-door makeup saleswoman, like Mary Kay. She visits people’s homes and sells her wares, usually unannounced. She is doing a decent job of it, and conducts herself professionally. It isn’t until we see what she does outside of work that you realize what a crappy life she has, but I don’t think she would say that about herself. She is living life on her own terms and seems pretty content with it. Sure, she goes to the bar every night and attempts to pick up guys, but this is what she does. This is how she lives.
Her life is a bit complicated. She has a daughter, Alice (Taylor Richardson) who lives with her sister, Abby (Elizabeth Marvel), because she is unable to keep a stable life for her child. She lives in a motel. She makes promises to improve her life and help out with money as Abby pleads for help. Unfortunately, Sherry has visions of grandeur and that life is easy. She wants to open a salon with her friend Danny (Jen Richards). She receives a rude awakening when her loan is turned down by the bank. It is not that simple to walk in a bank and ask for money. Feeling rejected but not deterred, she tries to think of another way to make the money or some other odd plan to get the money from the bank.
Writer/director Adam Keleman has created a film about one person’s complicated life. Sure, we have seen plenty of films with this same sort of story structure, but it is the exploration of Sherry’s imploding life that makes it all so interesting. She is not mature, and it reaches a point at which I would question her sanity. We have probably known someone in our lives that we can equate to Sherry’s ridiculous life. It is no surprise that she makes bad decisions.
Keleman uses his characters and cast to highlight another element of his film, the equality of gay and transgender people. This is probably the first film I have seen that someone’s sexuality or gender identity is a part of the film, but never mentioned or highlighted. The characters are there, and they are normal people. Elizabeth Marvel and Quincy Tyler Bernstine play a lesbian couple. Jen Richards is transsexual. I questioned whether Richards was actually even playing a transsexual or just a woman, but her character is indeed a transsexual living with a male partner. I find the inclusion of these characters and not even pointing it out to be refreshing and a different approach to most films these days. It is nice to find one in an independent film at SXSW.
The final culmination of the crazy that is Sherry’s life hits its peak at the end of Easy Living. When you think she can’t make any more bad decisions, she does. Well, it is not completely her idea, but given the situation she is placed in, she makes it worth her while and gives it an extra dash of Sherry that we have not seen at the end. The film is enjoyable, well shot, and has a cast of characters and actors that make it stand out among the many independent films vying for attention at SXSW. It is a pleasant surprise.