He’s the love of her life. She just doesn’t know it yet.
Ceremony (2011), directed and written by first-timer Max Winkler—yes, the son of Henry Winkler (AKA the Fonze.) The film stars Michael Angarano (Almost Famous), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2), Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies), and Reece Thompson (Rocket Science), and is about how one young man learns the hard way that love and friendship can never be secure.
Sam (Angarano) is a twenty-something-year-old writer and illustrator of children’s books. Not exactly the best writer there is, but he still considers himself as such. His best friend, Marshall (Thompson), is supportive of Sam’s decisions, although he hasn’t been out of his parents’ house for over a year—because of being mugged. Even after Sam read his new book, Chloe the Mermaid, to Marshall, he was there to support him…the only one there to support him. After reading to his audience of one, Sam convinces his friend to take an impulsive vacation to Long Island, repairing their ill-weathered relationship with each other. Marshall, reluctant to leave the comfort of his parents’ home, agrees to the idea.
Sam’s plans are not inclusive of Marshall’s feelings, however, and he had another motive in mind. His plan involved rekindling a romance with Zoe (Thurman), who mailed him a postcard, telling him precisely NOT to come to her wedding. He met her while she was on a trip to New York. Rain began to come down, and Sam was there to protect her from the downpour, covering her with a newspaper. One thing led to another, and—let’s just say–Sam was left smitten after that.
Zoe (Thurman) is the beautiful, willowy bride-to-be. Her fiancé, Whit (Pace) is the handsome and successful director of nature documentaries, entertainment for their wedding guests at his beach-side home. Zoe’s brother, Teddy (Johnson), is a drunk pill-popper, who accidently invites Sam and Marshall to the reception.
After a few hilarious twists and turns, Sam confesses his love for Zoe, and his desire to marry her. Much to his disappointment and realization, Zoe informs Sam that he could never come close to being the man of her life: Sam is just a boy compared to Whit, and she needs more than a prospect that is a terrible writer and living in a one-bedroom apartment.
Ceremony (2011) is surprisingly entertaining and charming film, placing first-time director, Winkler, in an esteemed class of his own. His unique method of storytelling, paired with superb acting talents, make this film more than a passerby piece of enjoyment of a movie. It’s a cinematic delight, with beautiful outdoor wedding scenes, and Thurman’s cleverly stylish and beautiful onscreen presence supersede Angarano’s neurotic and awkwardly imposed insistence’s that there has to be something between the two of them. In the end, he realizes that a marriage between him and Zoe will never occur, Sam also realizes that he wasn’t the man he, himself, thought to be. Believing, finally, that love is simply the equivalent of two fools happening on a misunderstanding.
Clearly, a film that shouldn’t be overlooked, and Hollywood—take notice. There’s a new director in town, and hopefully, Winkler can creatively ignore his inevitable rise in popularity, and be careful not lose any of his enlightening, distinct, and impressive personality, featured in Ceremony, his first film.
Well done, Winkler, well done.