If you haven’t heard of this movie, it’s one that people will pass along to you like it’s a hip new indie band. That’s how this movie was brought to my attention, and more often than not when anything is built up in that way it doesn’t live up to it. Natural Selection, however, is different. It wasn’t built up as the greatest movie ever. Just a cool movie. And that’s exactly what it is.
If you’re hung up on the title, thinking it relates strictly to the Darwinian term pertaining to evolution, you will be slightly confused while watching (as happened to the person I watched it with). The movie is aptly named though. The story, without giving too much away, follows Linda (played phenomenally by Rachael Harris) as she embarks on a journey to reconnect her husband with what she believes to be his long-lost son. Linda is in a transitional period of her life. Living in a very religious small town and stuck in a loveless marriage, the movie is, as lame as it sounds, the story of her finding herself, but in a genuine and funny way. She’s sweet, she means well, and her unrelenting optimism benefits her throughout her journey.
Her quest takes her into situations unknown to her previously, and although they would look insane on paper, they seem perfectly reasonable in the film. When the movie was presented to me, that was something I was skeptical about. “This movie takes these crazy turns, but each one seems believable because of the one before it.” Which always sounds like, “There’s a lot of stupid crap in this movie, but just ignore it.” But I was sold. The plot is crazy enough to be entertaining without pushing too far into the ridiculous. It’s heartwarming and romantic in a very unique way.
The only real critique I would give to the movie is that the budget does seem apparent, and it feels like a Coen brothers movie at times. But that also gives it a lot of its charm. (who doesn’t love charm?!) The fact that this film was writer/director Robbie Pickering’s first movie is really remarkable. It’s paced well. The dialogue is engaging and believable, and he gets a lot out of all the actors. Matt O’Leary, who plays Raymond, should really get some attention after his performance. He and Rachael Harris are a fantastic team. If Natural Selection is playing in a city near you, I highly recommend it.
Final Score: 3.5 ex-presidents