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Film Review: Untimely

A film by Daniel DeLoach

Clearly, the glass is half full for Daniel DeLoach. A local Dallas filmmaker, Mr. DeLoach was chosen by the Independent Film Channel (IFC) for inclusion in their Pure Film Sweepstakes. His film, Untimely, ultimately won the Grand Prize.

Untimely shows Mr. DeLoach's growth as a director in handling a longer format. New Clear Farm (included in both the Deep Ellum Film Festival and the Dallas Video Festival) was an 8-minute narrative with sketchy characters in a comically absurd piece. Tryptych, as the name implies, featured three very short pieces in the style of Russian Socialist Realism, but with a healthy dollop of bleak, Slavic humor. Untimely is longer than DeLoach's previous pieces, clocking in around 30 minutes, which makes it more of a featurette than a short.

Mr. DeLoach handles this longer format with aplomb. He manages to weave three story lines together and come out on the other end of the film with all three as one. Not an inconsiderable feat, especially given how poorly many commercial and short directors fare when Hollywood gives them a feature budget. In Untimely, the main character is fleeing West across the Texas plains. A nice touch of mystery is added by the fact that we never find out what she is fleeing, although a blackened eye indicts a former boyfriend. Her car breaks down near an observatory where an elderly astronomer is desperately searching for a comet to name for her late husband before she dies. This search for immortality has drained whatever pleasure life might still hold for her.

Much to her dismay, the young woman is forced to backtrack east to a little town to have her car repaired. There the third character lives, and lives and lives. He claims to have found Ponce de Leon's fountain of youth and to be over 300 years old. In a deft move, Mr. DeLoach makes a winning choice for product placement. Souza Tequila (the sponsor of the Pure Film Sweepstakes) is revealed as the secret to immortality - if drunk on a meager diet of olives. Despite his immortality, this character, too, is despondent over yet another birthday and the dearth of old friends.

Ultimately, the young woman brings the astronomer and the 300-year old man together and manages to find some catharsis as she continues her journey. She is even able to let go of her compulsion to only travel west and strikes out in a new direction.

Untimely draws on the mystique of the American West by mixing Native American legends and the myth of the Fountain of Youth with small town oddball characters and a new method of achieving immortality. Mr. DeLoach doesnt try to do too much, and by delineating the borders of his film he fills it fully. Just when you think you know where the film is going, Mr. DeLoach turns a corner and takes you in a different direction. Untimely has the feel of a feature, and indicates that Mr. DeLoach is ready to take on that challenge. Hopefully when he does, that film will leave the audience with the same sense of satisfaction that his featurette has managed.

Winner of the Independent Film Channel's
Pure Film Sweepstakes

Review by Alan Tubbs