Film Review: Tocker’s debut “Everyday Saturday”
Dorian Tocker’s debut feature, Everyday Saturday had its world premiere last Wednesday at the Northside Film Festival, where it was greeted with acclaim from the audience who showered him in compliments during the post screening Q&A. The film which literally sits close to home for Tocker, it was filmed in his childhood home, is about as personal of a story as you can get. Chronicling the aftermath of a retired woman’s life, the film confronts the question: “What’s next?” in a bold and chilling manner, evoking Chantal Akerman’s minimalist realism.
The film begins with a still shot of the front door, immediately inviting the audience into this world of monotony, introducing the idea of stasis, both literal through the minimal camera work and figurative through the lack of action within the frame. This is the reality of Evelyn’s (Deborah Hedwall) life post-retirement: she eats a TV dinner, puts on her nightgown, and goes to bed, alone. Even when she is in the company of others (like when she goes to dinner at a friend’s house) it is clear that she if suffering through an internal loneliness that goes beyond the simple absence of people.
Tocker’s attention to detail achieves this chilling sense of desolation in a way that creates a palpable anxiety in the audience. The camera captures each slight move, rendering the characters trapped in the cages of their own lives while the viewer is made a scopophilic observer. It’s a bold rendering of Akerman’s work with a personal touch of nuanced emotion.
Inspired by his mother’s own retirement and his college graduation, Tocker wanted to “explore what it’s like to be alone, approaching it in a visually unadorned way and with as little formal commentary as possible.” Mission accomplished.
The film parallels Evelyn’s loneliness with her recently graduated son, Asher, who returns home with little gained from college. In one of the film’s best scenes, we see Asher struggle cluelessly with changing a lightbulb. The grating sound of the twisting lamp fixture continues for what feels like an eternity: this is his greatest challenge for the day, this is what his life has become. The scene mirrors an earlier one of Evelyn buttering her toast, the crispness of the toast comes alive and feels almost like nails scratching a chalk board.
Both scenes which are simultaneously hilarious and tragic, exemplify Tocker’s ability to showcase the complexity of internal conflict without any actual dialogue. In fact, it seems as though Tocker succeeds most through silence, highlighting the mundane and lonely nature of their days through sound created from their own bleak space, as opposed to the sometimes forced dialogue between Asher and co.
The film ultimately succeeds as a freshman feature, capturing a universal sense of loss and the need for transition.