Richard Kind in Auggie

Review by EJ Argenio, NRFTW Contributor and Correspondent

Let’s take a little trip, shall we? Imagine for the moment that it is 30 years into your future. You’ve become the working professional you dreamt of being while in college. The family you hope to build one day is now grown with everyone living in the big colonial house out in the suburbs, white picket fence and all. Circumstances have not been too dire, so you’ve been able to put a save a little money in the bank. There may not be much else you would probably ask for, but I think you would agree, under this scenario … life is pretty good.

Then what? What happens when the dream job is no longer yours or your kids start to move out? It’s fine if you’re not sure, but when the day comes to have an answer, you may feel more lost than ever. That next chapter in life and becoming used to the new norm are just a couple of the themes of focus in the independent drama Auggie.

Felix Greystone is a happily married architect who is quietly forced into retirement by the firm he spent so many years of his life helping build. While he is not happy with his current status, he has come to terms with his new reality. Thanking Felix for years of service, the company provides him with an Auggie, which is short for augmented-reality. Auggies are eyeglasses that can channel into the brain resulting in the generation of an A.I (artificial intelligence) specific only to the user. Their look is based on the desires of the user’s subconscious with a replicated memory of said user because of a technical connection to the brain allowing anyone to have a friend / companion available at any time. With life in a standstill, Felix quickly becomes comfortable with his Auggie, but risks jeopardizing all he has built by alienating those that he loves.

Richard Kind ( Curb Your Enthusiasm, Spin City) plays the recently retired Felix searching for purpose outside of the world that once was his daily routine. This was a unique casting decision by the film’s writer/director Matt Kane. Kind is a character actor (of both stage and screen) mostly known for his roles in comedies without many drama-related credits to his name. The most recent was his portrayal of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the film Bombshell. However, it was such a minor role that I wouldn’t even call it supporting.

In Auggie, Kind is challenged with carrying the tone and emotion for the film’s entirety. He succeeds in doing so and has some help with the support Christen Harper (who portrays the physical depiction of Felix’s Auggie), as well as Susan Blackwell (Anne) and Simone Policano (Grace) who help shape the emotional demise the once prominent Felix had with his family. The cast plays off of each other very well, but seeing Kind in this type of role is what stood out most.

This is just another reason I am such a fan of Independent films. Sure, there is a risk using an often comedic actor like Richard Kind to play such a dramatic role, but isn’t filmmaking a risk itself? This type of gamble allows audiences to see performers as they may never have before. It also grants liberties to actors to broaden their range and erase any previous labels associated with their name.

Additionally, praise must be given to cinematographer Natasha Mullan, who aptly provides the current sense of loss Felix is feeling through the lens with wide angled shots. There is a lot of change going on for just one person to take on. In his world, Felix is going to battle everyday all alone. Visually, it helps to make sense why he seeks comfort from his Auggie. Who wouldn’t?

Technology is ever evolving. Perhaps a real version of the Auggie will be available for you to own one day. For now, check out this film to see how you would deal with the situation once that time comes. Sprinkled with inspiration from films like Her & Simone, technology is both lifeline and burden to the human condition in the indie drama Auggie.

Originally published at https://behindtherabbitproductions.wordpress.com on April 9, 2020.

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