An exploration of the mundane unable to transcend the tedium of its character's lives.
Big Significant Things
From the opening scene of Bryan Reisberg’s debut feature Big Significant Things, it’s easy to tell that the film not only has a sense of style but a sense of sarcasm as well. The film’s protagonist stands before the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket and asks a young man to take a photo of him. At this point, it’s apparent that the film will not be about big, significant things, but about the illusion of significance. For an indie road trip comedy, Reisberg’s film is surprisingly bleak.
Big Significant Things focuses on a few days in the life of Craig Harrison (Harry Lloyd), a man who has decided to get in his car and drive aimlessly in order to figure out his life and make sure he’s headed in the right direction. He lies to his girlfriend about the vacation, telling her that he is on a business trip with colleagues when, in reality, he is traveling alone. Craig’s outright dishonesty and decision to desert his seemingly decent life is definitely intriguing, but Reisberg doesn’t do enough with the idea, therefore making the film drag along.
If there were no character arc displayed in the film’s final act, Big Significant Things might have been much worse, but it does eventually seem that Craig has taken something away from his lonely, mobile experience. But what that arc is, and what exactly Harry takes away from his trip aren’t made clear. Craig enters the film obnoxiously ignorant and leaves it obnoxiously indifferent. He learned something from his experience on the road, but what exactly is it that he learned? And is he better off having learned it?
With all of that said, Big Significant Things certainly has its strong points as well, including Harry Lloyd’s performance and Reisberg’s clever screenplay. Lloyd appears to be a natural fit for these kinds of small character pieces, and with the assistance of a more seasoned director, he could eventually crank out a great performance. Reisberg shows potential as well, especially as a screenwriter. Scenes like Craig talking with teenagers at a motel swimming pool, or his initial exchange with the film’s female lead Ella (Krista Kosonen) are two of the stronger moments in the film.
Ultimately, Reisberg’s debut could have worked better as a short film; cutting the runtime might have done some good with regard to retaining the viewers’ attention. But a shorter version still wouldn’t address the fact that it’s hard to understand what the film is trying to say. Is it saying that things are better experienced in the company of others? That it’s important to be realistic by not expecting too much out of life? The moral implications of such thinking aside, it’s telling that the version of Craig we meet in the film’s beginning is by far more interesting and likable than who he becomes by the film’s end. A sure sign that as a character study alone, Big Significant Things is wildly unsuccessful.