It's reunion time at a wooded lake house for a bunch of old friends in co-writer and director Chris Lowell's indie comedy-drama "Beside Still Waters."
Host Daniel (Ryan Eggold) just lost his parents in a car accident, but none of the invited friends — who include a flirty ex (Britt Lower) with the new fiancé (Reid Scott), a vain reality TV star (Brett Dalton), a sweethearts-turned-sour married couple (Erin Darke and Will Brill) — made it to the funeral.
You'd think this would make things awkward and worthy of introspection among supposedly chummy chums, but no, scenes of drinking, drug use, dumb games and sex with the wrong person are the currency of movies like this. What's more than apparent, though, is that any interesting comment or funny remark must have happened off-camera.
Lowell, a sitcom actor ("Enlisted") and photographer, lards his "The Big Chill" ripoff with plenty of arty touches: black-and-white stills used as flashbacks, scenes filmed in super 8, characters who quote Hemingway. He assumes this will lend the needed heft to paper-thin characters, witless exchanges and emotional recriminations you can see coming a mile away.
"Beside Still Waters"
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.