At the Flicks, during a media screening for his new film, Norman Waiting, local writer/director/producer/actor Travis Swartz wandered the aisle, showed off his new iPod, and joked with the small audience that he'd be watching to see if we laughed and cried in the right places. Then the theater darkened and the film began.
Norman Waiting is a day-in-the-life story of everyman Norman Taylor, who believes that when he finds Miss Right, his soul mate, "the one," the heavens will open and a resounding chorus of angels will appear as a sign from God that yes, Norman, she's "the one." During a romantic dinner at a Western-themed Italian restaurant, Norman proposes to his girlfriend of seven months, Kristie White (a spot-on performance by Vanessa Hopkins). As he waits for the singing cherubim, he discusses his need for a sign from God with his friend, Cookie (the restaurant's chef), his girlfriend's parents and, most importantly, their stunning, insightful, wholly unpretentious waitress for the evening, Jennifer (skillfully played by Dana Perry).
The majority of the film takes place at the fictitious restaurant, Montague's, but there are a couple of scenes that play out in locations that will be quite familiar to regular denizens of downtown Boise. Swartz's acting is at its best in these scenes, breathing life and joy and sadness and honesty into Norman Taylor. It wasn't long before I forgot it was Swartz up there on the big screen and just quietly cheered Norman on.
Unlike Swartz's manic first feature film, Most Funniest, there are no soaring highs or profound lows in Norman Waiting. It's a movie that rests almost entirely on dialogue to move it along, so that dialogue had better be impeccable. It comes pretty close, though some of Norman's lines are a bit repetitive. Swartz also uses some film techniques that allow the viewer to reflect a bit and then move seamlessly to the next scene, but the techniques aren't always consistent. The incongruity of a blurred still in one scene to a Photoshop watercolor-filtered still to a star wipe is a little jarring. But even though there are a couple of small hiccups in Norman Waiting, they don't detract from the film's overall quality or the likability of Norman Taylor and the hope that he gets the sign he's so desperately waiting for. Nor do they take anything away from the quality of the acting or the knowledge that Swartz is a fine developing filmmaker.
Special screening October 26, with a pre-screening party from at 5:15 p.m. at Funktion, 860 W. Broad St. in BoDo, and the film screening at 7:15 p.m. at The Flicks, 646 Fulton St. Cost is $35 and tickets can be purchased at The Flicks or by calling the film's producer, Vangie Osborn, at 343-3478.