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IFFBoston Review: Natural Causes

Natural Causes“When did you decide you didn’t want to be with me forever?” This line stood out for me during the screening of ‘Natural Causes,’ it’s a question that has been asked a million times, in a million relationships.

It was these sort of moments that made this film stand out. Directed by Alex Cannon, Paul Cannon, and Michael Lerman, the film, shot 10 days in 4 of the 5 boroughs in NYC (as well as upstate NY), is about a two year relationship from start to finish.

The film opens with the meeting of David and Cara (Played by Jerzi Gwiasdowski and Leah Goldstein). David initially starts to date Cara’s roommate. After a brief relationship, Cara and David reconnect, and begin a two-year emotional rollercoaster.

You spend every moment with the characters, walking in parks with them, lying in their beds with them, fighting with them. By the end, I felt like I had either been a part of the relationship, or lived some aspects of it myself. As time goes on, the couple begins to grow apart, other people enter (or reenter) their lives, the fights worsen.

Natural CausesThe scenes are often long, single shot takes (think Van Sant), with rather breaks of blackness between scenes, perhaps to signify the time, or highlight and seperate the moments.

Production design and lighting is minimal, no doubt in real life apartments and exteriors using available light. I could go on and on about my issues with the technical aspects of the film, but I won’t, the most important thing here is the not the technical aspects, but the content within. What the filmmakers have done here is capture an entire relationship as realistically as possible. As if the webcam was set up on Cara’s computer, and we were watching via a live stream.

Gwiazdowski had quite the screen presence throughout the film as David. His character was reserved throughout, making the emotional, and anger filled scenes stand out even more.

What was enthralling about the film is that the characters felt quite real, and no matter your experiences with relationships, everything found here was quite relatable. It would have been easy to sidetrack, mix in other characters, or even highlight the fact that the entire film was shot in New York City. What you found here was 93 minutes with two normal, relateable, real-life characters.

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