Seattle’s favorite hometown direct Lynn Shelton opened SIFF 2019 with a lighthearted comedy skimming the backward inconsistency in the American South. When Cynthia (Jillian Bell) returns to Birmingham, Alabama, with her partner Mary (Michaela Watkins), they find a reverse mortgage has taken the home they expected to inherit leaving only a Civil War sword and a disheveled story around its involvement with the South winning the war. The couple pairs with a local pawn shop owner Mel (Marc Marion) and his dim assistant Nathaniel (Jon Bass) in a quest to profit off those collect “evidence” for a Confederate victory.
Lynn Shelton blends improv and solid humorous situations to make the festival begin with a charming odd couples’ adventure into baffling ways of thinking. The primary quartet bounce off each other splendidly, shifting from whatever pile of deceptions they concoct at the given moment. A delightful spontaneity shines with the second guesses and false starts through their entire confusion endeavor. Jillian Bell is a befuddled badass with manners. Marc Maron permits a gentle unraveling of his character; his explanation for how he acquired the pawn shop presented history worthy of a television season. Jon Bass is to Maron as Pedro was to Napoleon Dynamite; his wide mouthed gape hides any chance he’s aware of what he’s doing. Michaela Watkins takes MVP with her take charge, rapid fire yarn unspooling: a lesbian ready to ignite a racist patriarchy for all she can burn without an arson charge.
Sword of Trust bans together outsiders in a toxic world, and its debut the week of a draconian abortion law in Alabama highlights two points: not everyone in these areas is a backward person, but when they are it is unerring though misguided. Shelton has proven a consistent filmmaker over the last decade, and her most recent contribution is a welcome example of collaborative effort producing a warm, natural experience.
HAPPY SIFF 2019!