Low Budget Review: Offbeat

Offbeat is a romantic dramedy about teachers, William Abrams (Jackson Geiger), Eliza Mitchel (Alyssa Lang), and their turbulent relationship in the face of job insecurity and religious incompatibility.

Justen Noll's second feature film releases exclusively on YouTube and only a month after his first feature film The One and Only debuted. Noll continues to hone his skills in the sub genre and Offbeat is the logical next step in his film catalog.

Offbeat blends his experimental techniques from The One and Only and his friendship based romance from his short films Summer and A Little Thing Called Love that come nicely together in this glimpse into the lives of not just teachers but very complex people.

Geiger, Lang, and Noll have writing credits for the film. The reason being is that the dialogue is all improvised by the actors. Noll's decision to use improvised dialogue from his actors makes for a more real and organic experience. He succeeds at this, sometimes to a fault. Some conversations go on for too long. Which is likely due to lack of video coverage since the scenes that drag on are the ones where the camera is stationary. Another theory could be that it was to pad run time to meet feature length.

However, the scene that really show the actors' talent was the confrontation between Eliza and William. Noll's low, handheld camera angle is if the audience is a child watching parents argue and the most memorable scene in the film.

Something that is present in Offbeat as well as his first feature The One and Only is the sense of loneliness that can be attributed to the fact that no other actors are seen except for the main two characters. This fact added with the cool, damp Oregon climate makes for a melancholy purgatory that only the two characters inhabit. The camera acting as an omniscient ghost following them in their sandbox life which results in a film akin to the films of Dogma 95 movement.

Offbeat, if anything, is proof of a positive direction Justen Noll will continue.


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