MUSTANG ISLAND—-when his girlfriend dumps him, precisely time-on-target during a New Year’s Eve party, ‘Bill’ (Macon Blair) is not just surprised, he’s crushed. Summoning desperate courage, he convinces reluctant brother ‘John’ (John Merriman) and up-for-whatever friend ‘Travis’ (Jason Newman) to join him (or drive him, since he drove his car into a boat) on a quest to confront and win back ‘Molly’ (Molly Karrasch). The trail leads to Texan tourist town Mustang Island, mostly empty during the off-season. Waiting for Molly (a reasonable title, come to think of it) to show up at her parent’s unoccupied beach house—which they have broken into—the pitiful trio hang out with ebulliently obnoxious local dude ‘Byron’ (Byron Brown) and lonesome waitress ‘Lee’ (Lee Eddy).
Dead-pan funny and sneakily poignant, the pint-sized 2017 indie was directed by Craig Elrod, who co-wrote the minimalist script with Nathan Smith. Filming in Galveston, Texas, Smith also served as cinematographer, shooting the 86-minute comedy-of-errer’s in starkly beautiful black & white. That visual decision doesn’t come off as artsy indie pretense, but as a shrewd tune-up for highlighting the emotional states of the characters and the seasonal ennui of a resort town in hibernation.
Several of the takes go on long seconds past making their point, but the cast is so winning and the photography so attractive you can forgive some indulgence. Blair and Eddy are married in real-life: their offbeat chemistry is a lock. Merriman’s too-true sad sack is delightful. Overlooked by the mainstream, a film festival fave, bound for minor cult status.