Anna and Alex.
Andrew Sayre’s Whatever Makes You Happy successfully combines romance, intimacy and drama in a film where twenty-somethings Anna (Rachel Delante) and Alex (Tyler Peck), two characters living two decidedly different lifestyles become entangled in curiosity and passion through an unfamiliar, creative rift that spreads and uproots everything and everyone around them. I am impressed by the excellent character development, the showing of fluidity in emotions, and showcasing genuine dialogue and familiar situations among all the cast. Filmed and produced on a micro-budget, Sayre’s romantic drama is in a new class of films that doesn’t need all of the exuberant expenses to make an intensely real and emotional impact. A movie that you can picture yourself being a part of.
Anna (Delante) is a grad student living a comfortable, safe life with her upscale friends. Kevin (Jon Miguel), her boyfriend of five years, is usually busy at work and content with the predictable life that he and his circle of friends live. However, through an adventurous friend, Betsy (Alex Aspiazu) she meets Alex (Tyler Peck), an urban hipster who performs in a local band and cruises through life without many accomplishments. Immediately, there is a spark between them, and both embark on a forbidden romance.
Truly, the heart of the story is the unique chemistry between its characters. The minor roles are distinguishable from one another, and even with only a few lines of dialogue–the scenes are still able to create a poignant impact. The tension between Alex and Anna’s friends makes itself evident as he is an outsider, through their perception of the world around them–“his kind” doesn’t fit in with theirs. His music hobby is nothing to take seriously in their eyes, and that Anna’s interest in him is a waste of time.
Both characters are attracted to each other because of their differences, giving them a potential to explore outside of their familiarity. The natures of both Anna and Alex come through as their characters continue to progress. Anna is used to the stability of long-term relationships while Alex is more spontaneous and prefers to enjoy the moment. But, when that moment is over he steps away and distances himself. While their coupling was intimate and carefree in the beginning–their different lifestyles were the cause of their conflict.
What Ever Makes You Happy proceeds at a steady pace allowing the magnetic storyline to evolve, and not mislead you into seemingly hurried situations–or dreading the long wait for the story to build up by revealing a uniquely emotional side to relationships.
Indeed, a romantic drama worthy of your time and consideration.
- Official Selection Rome International Film Festival (2011)
- Official Selection Philadelphia Independent Film Festival (2011)
- Winner – Best Film Treasure Coast International Film Festival (2011)
- Official Selection Louisville International Festival of Film (2011)
- Official Selection Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (2001)
Image and trailer courtesy of Andrew Sayre. All rights reserved