It happens every year: The non-stop parade of awards season titles drowns out a smaller indie film that happens to be one of the year’s great discoveries. Just look at the devastating “James White” last year, which went from indie darling on the festival circuit to box office afterthought in the wake of more Oscar-friendly fare like “Spotlight,” “Room” and “Brooklyn.” Great indies demand to be seen and supported, and this year Sophia Takal’s “Always Shine” is one of those films. An intense study of friendship and jealousy, this great indie thriller will be going up against the likes of “Jackie,” “Things to Come,” “La La Land” and more this December, but you’re not going to want to let it slip through the cracks, trust us.
Starring Caitlin FitzGerald and Mackenzie Davis, who won Best Actress at Tribeca earlier this year, “Always Shine” follows two longtime friends and actresses as they head to Big Sur for a weekend gateway with hopes to reconnect after years of competing against each other for jobs. But it doesn’t take long for the women to discover that their friendship is forced, and what follows is a twisty narrative full of real and imaginative betrayals that force each women to evaluate their relationship and their true selves.
In his review out of the Tribeca Film Festival, IndieWire Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn said the film had a “a studied approach to genre filmmaking that calls to mind Brian De Palma at his best,” and that its “atmospheric, noir-like proceedings yield a constant sense of intrigue.” Takal, an actress who’s making her second feature film here, proves she’s a filmmaker to watch closely in the years ahead.
“Always Shine” opens in limited release December 2. Watch the debut trailer below, plus the striking debut poster.