Advertisement
Movies

Review:  ‘Asthma’ sounds fine, but the filmmaking needs a breath of fresh air

‘Asthma’

Krysten Ritter in a scene from “Asthma." 

(Aaron Epstein / IFC Films)

“Asthma” opens with a jolt as our protagonist, Gus (Benedict Samuel), steps off a chair with a noose around his neck, dripping with the white paint he’s smeared around his loft in a fit of manic ennui. It’s a daring thesis statement for a film about disaffected urban youth and their misadventures

Surviving the ordeal, Gus plunges deeper into the self-destructive behavior of a New York City hipster — stealing cars and copping heroin. He cons fetching tattoo artist Ruby (Krysten Ritter) into a stolen Rolls-Royce, offering her a ride to Connecticut. Ruby’s got a gig tattooing musician Logan (Dov Tiefenbach) at his country house, which has serious culty vibes, thanks to New Age-y guru Ragen (Goran Visnjic in an Adam Duritz wig).

SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter >>

Shockingly, Gus isn’t the greatest house guest. He’s a jealous, selfish junkie tormented by his own demons, which take the form of a wolf man voiced by Nick Nolte. Director Jake Hoffman (son of Dustin) might know of privileged, rebellious youth, but asking the audience to identify with the hapless Gus is a tall order. The real hero here is Ruby, astute and gorgeous, and you wonder why she doesn’t cut this loser loose. As a director, Hoffman’s influences show on screen, from the seedy, underworld charms of 1970s New Hollywood to go-nowhere conversational moments that feel decidedly of the 1990s slacker indie classics. The soundtrack is fantastic and Samuel eminently watchable, but “Asthma” suffers from near-lethal doses of self-satisfied hipness.

Advertisement

------------

“Asthma”

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes,

Advertisement

Playing: Sundance Sunset


Newsletter
Only good movies

Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement