Here at THiNC. I scour the interwebs in order to find small, independent films with new and interesting ideas. A couple times a week I bring you movies, movies with interesting ideas, and we talk about them. Sure, I rate movies, but only so you can know how much I love them. This site definitely is not a movie review website. It’s a movie discussion website. And in order to find people, like you, with similar movie tastes, and similar, non-Hollywood preferences, I post the movies that have my head spinning more than the others. Some of the recent gems we’ve been having fun with, you ask? Oh, shall I regale you then? Right, maybe Bird Box, Bandersnatch, and The Haunting of Hill House would be three really great mainstream movies that might be good training wheels movies for one new to this like you. Or if you are looking for something a little more adventurous, why don’t you try Green Room? That thing could strip paint off an old house, but I can’t recommend it enough. Or if you are hoping for more of a refined mindjob… then shall I interest you in this nice Chardonnay with woody after tones? It’s called The Kindergarten Teacher. But that is what we do here, we find movies that are not cookie cutter Hollywood money manufacturers, but rather interesting, and hard to understand, and we dissect them and talk about them.
So today, I’ve got an interesting, avant garde movie, even for this site. It’s got a cast of ten maybe, or so, and only like five with speaking parts. It’s like an intriguing idea piece, in the realm of a Twilight Zone sort of a movie. Makes you ask a million tough questions as this thing unspools. Here, because this was a really, really hard movie to find – here is the IMDB page for it. And, also, you can watch it here as well. (I think that’s it right now? Google Play and iTunes don’t have it yet, that I can find anyway.)
The setup is simple. A woman goes hiking and gets hopelessly lost. Eventually she stumble into a field, on land that is guarded and protected by a married couple with a history, and something to hide. That’s about as far as I can I go with the story without swan diving into the land of spoilers. Which we’ll do momentarily… but only after all of you who haven’t seen the movie yet move along. Seriously. Move along. Come back after you’ve gotten your hands on a copy of this interesting, quiet, idea-piece of a movie. It’s definitely a movie that will give us a lot to talk about. OK, last call – spoilers inbound.
Still Movie Deep Dive Walk Through
The movie opens with two male hikers wandering onto the land of a married couple living in the middle of nowhere. Soon they are run off the land by gunpoint by “Adam” (played by Nick Blood). Cut to the titles.
Let me be 100% honest here. The secret of this film was unveiled to me the moment the titles started. For me anyway. Did anyone else figure out what was going on because of the vintage photos of moonshine distilleries? We had just been told that this was going to be a modern movie. And yet, here are these ancient stills. And blam. I realized this was a fountain of youth movie! I was really curious where this was going to go, and yet, I was a little bummed they gave it away with the titles. But hopefully I was the rare exception on this front.
Now, cut to, Lily (played by Madeline Brewer of Handmaid’s Tale and the Black Mirror episode entitled Raiman), apparently a terminal cancer patient, heading out into the woods for a final hike to die. But when she stumbles onto the land of a secretive married couple, her life takes a turn. Instead of running her off, they invite her to stay, and she settles in for a bit. That is until the wounds of her hands are mysteriously healed by the water they get from a nearby cave. And so the woman (who is not credited with a name, but is played by Lydia Wilson – and you’d know from About Time) decides that she is going to take Lily down to the cave to show her the fountain of youth.
But before they get there, Adam intercepts them…they argue, and Lily is shot by Adam. Because, OF COURSE she is. Upset, the woman rushes to…do something. But we don’t know what, because, before she does it, we jump backwards in time to when she and Adam were running through the woods years and years before. They eventually stumble out onto the property they came to live on. They go through the house and the barn, and realize that it’s thoroughly deserted. Better than that, the deed to the land and the house are right there. So the woman declares that the land is hers. And that Adam can leave. But he decides to stay.
Apparently, the woman had paid Adam to help her leave her father, Daniel Shelby. Shelby was a fiercely religious, and probably abusive, father, and it so happened that Shelby was chasing them down. When they arrive on the property, Adam kills two of the men, but her father shoots Adam. The woman then uses her father’s own gun to shoot him when he wasn’t expecting it. She doesn’t think she can save Adam this time, the water can’t be that powerful… jump to current day when we have a mortally inured Lily, in need of care or she is going to die.
Adam helps the woman transport Lily to the trailhead nearby and setup camp. And then Adam leaves. So, when Lily comes to, and her fears are assuaged, they head into town to have a pint, and some food with a couple of guys at the pub. But mid-festivities, the woman begins bleeding horribly out of her nose, and then collapses. When they rush her to the hospital, we notice that her face ages noticeably, and the blood continues to flow. The doctors are trying their best to intervene and help her, but they literally have no idea as to what is happening with her. Which, is when, Adam arrives, with a massive bottle of holy water in tow. He administers the water, and picks her up and runs away.
Adam, puts his wife in bed, and writes a note saying that she was right. Meaning, that he should have left in the first place, that the cabin was hers, and he had no right in staying regardless of the fountain of youth on the premises. And he leaves. In the morning, woman wakes up to see Lily and the two guys from the bar in her kitchen, drinking the moonshine, and punching each other in the face repeatedly. She takes one look at this insanity, and packs up a bottle of the finest water tonic, and leaves as well. When she finds Adam, overlooking a cliff, and the beautiful green of the countryside beyond, they cuddle up, and allow the water to spill over and drip away.
A Few Thoughts On the Movie Still
First things first, this thing was totally done on a micro-budget. Yes, somehow managed to snag Lydia Wilson and Madeline Brewer to join the cast. But maybe they were friends, and this was seen as an Indie art project effort? Which, I love, by the way…don’t get me wrong. It’s what I loved about the movie I reviewed the other day, Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town, it was FULL of amazing talent, just itching to do some fun acting for a day. So kudos to them.
Can I say that it almost feels like it was the location that wrote this script. Takashi Doscher was out on this location for a wedding, or something, and it was this field, the barn, the small colonial house that wrote the script for him. Could be wrong, but it just seems to make sense as we watch. But setting aside this small gripe of the micro-budget-ness of this movie, I have to say that this film had bigger aspirations than the size of their budget. Which, is a compliment to Takashi.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about this movie is the way that it made me think about what I would do if I had discovered a spring that happened to be a fountain of youth. Sell tickets? Uh, no. The FDA would shut that crap down in a heartbeat. Build a bottler on the land, and haul the newly bottled water off to an undisclosed location over the years. And buy random stocks to fund my new Cartesian water business. But seriously, the rules of this movie and the water require the water drinkers to stay close to the water, and it also requires them to be 100% territorial with their information. I mean, we see that in the beginning don’t we?
Which had me thinking, as Takashi Doscher was writing this ending, I could see him thinking – ‘We’ll give them a pleasant end to the chaos.’ But really, all I could think about was the fact that these two people had probably been killing people left and right to maintain control of the water. We get evidence of this in the beginning with the hikers. But we also see it in the end. Lily takes the rifle, turns on the two men that had followed her to the cabin, and kills them both.
And what does that say about the human spirit? About man’s inhumanity to man? It’s not a huge leap from Lily owning this fountain of youth and Martin Shkreli and his horrific price gouging for his drug. Is that any worse than having a medical treatment for “staving off” cancer for a bit, and not sharing it with the world? But it’s limited – so what do you do in that case? Reminds me of the recent Keanu Reeves movie, Replicas. The ending of that movie finds itself on a similar precarious position (yes, I’m trying not to spoil that particular ending by being coy.) But what do you do with a limited quantity of life saving medicine? Well, you kill anyone that gets near it is what you do. Hahahah. Why? Because humans are, above all else, selfish… and horrifically so.
With that said, what deeper lesson comes from the movie Still? Maybe that the woman, and Adam (come on, anytime anyone uses the character name Adam they are saying something specific) realized this horror about themselves. In that shot, overlooking the forest, they had realized that they had willfully chosen to kill others for their own ends. (Both as a sin of omission as well as a sin of commission. Think about it, you have a cure for cancer and you tell no one? Wow, is that a huge omission). That they had chosen poorly. So the thought here for me has been, where do I daily choose my own interests, and my own ends, over other’s? How can I avoid making this mistake personally in small and non-obvious ways? Wow, that came off pretty preachy preachy. My bad. But it is a good moral to the story anyway.
“One thing I found interesting is that a woman (unnamed) is the owner/guardian of this water of life. And somehow Lily intuits this also by killing the two guys. And Adam ultimately realizes that the woman was right to claim this vehicle of life and youth – even going so far as to kill for that right. Which makes the ending interesting when the couple pour that water away, ending their long lives but also ending all the killings done for the water. Women’s reproductive rights. So many people want to control that.”Brilliant comment by THiNC.’s illustrious editor – CY
When CY mentioned to me this spin on the movie, I realized it had to be the perfect last word on the discussion. I literally cannot better that. Really really well played.
Edited by, CY
Bespoke Movie Recommendations