Midlothia, competing here at AFI Dallas in both the Texas and audience favorite competitions, played last night to a packed theater. The structure of the film is simple: four twenty-somethings, living in the small town of Midlothia, find their lifelong friendship rapidly imploding in the midst of the decision of one of them to leave town. The structure is so pure and dialogue-based, in fact, that about a third of the way through the film I found myself thinking, "This would make a really great play." Surprise, surprise, in the Q&A I found out that the screenplay was, in fact, adapted from the stage play Pluck the Day by Stephen Walters.
Writer/director Bill Sebastian also plays Fred, a troubled young man with an ex-fiancee, a serious drinking problem, some anger management issues -- and a deep desire to atone for the past and be a better person in this future. Fred's mother is dead, his dad is in prison, and he hates his brother, Ted (Randall Scot). Fred, who is about to leave town for good, lives with Bill (Eric Reeves), who is clearly way too smart to be living in this small Texas town. Their friend Duck (James Thomas Gilbert) has his own house, complete with wife Darcy and two little kids, but he's a lost soul, spending most of his time at Fred and Bill's, drinking his way through the day. The final member of the quartet is April (Jessica McClendon -- and I'd like to see more of her especially, so indie directors, take note of her performance), Fred's ex-fiancee; when we first meet April she is baking a cake and crying.