Indie Feature Friday: “Lattie” (2016)
Lattie (2016) is a dramatic dark comedy about an isolated Indiana slacker who finds out that he has a terminal disease. It’s the third feature film from indie writer-director Kevin Chenault and the first for 86’d Films. Chenault also appears in the film as the lead character, Lattie.
Clocking in at 66 minutes, Lattie is more of a featurette (using the traditional definition of three reels) than a full feature film. Yet it packs in a feature-length story. While dealing with his medical situation (which appears to be lung cancer that has spread to his brain), Lattie also has to cope with the well-meant concerns of his sister (Audrey Hillyer) and their parents (uncredited). Then he makes a chance discovery that lands him in the middle of a murder mystery. Lattie just wants to be alone, but circumstances just won’t let him do that.
As a result, his life becomes a tragic comedy of errors as his disease progresses. Surrealistic transitional scenes mark his slow mental deterioration. While two unknown thugs and the police pursue him, Lattie tries to enjoy the vices that have been his few sources of pleasure in life. But there is part of him that wants to “do the right thing” before the inevitable catches up with him.
The musical score of this film underscores its shifting mood. It includes an eclectic selection of tracks by indie bands as well as original compositions by Ubi Escalona. The cinematography by Eddy Scully creates visuals that (as edited) appear like a cross between the look and feel of Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991). The film editing (uncredited) is good, although there are a couple of (possibly intentional) disorienting changes of location in some cuts. The editing of the film’s ending is also a little rough.
Yet the film marks a powerful triple performance by Chenault. His concept of Lattie as a person comes alive in his on-screen performance, which is strong. In partnership with producer Lavender Timmons, he has created a quality indie film.