STINKING HEAVEN || 2015, USA || Drama || Directed by – Nathan Silver / Written by – Deragh Campbell, Jack Dunphy, Hannah Gross, Keith Poulson, Nathan Silver / Produced by – Blake Ashman, R.J. Beavers, Benedict Campbell, Jack Dunphy, Jere B. Ford, Carl Kranz, Diane Lanyi, Tommy Lordahl, Elizabeth MacKenzie, Jackie Maxwell, Richard Peete, Donna Rosen, Glen Wolther, Rachel Wolther / Music by – Paul Grimstad / Cinematography – Adam Ginsberg / Editing by – Stephen Guerewitz / Production design – Britni West / Starring – Deragh Campbell, Henri Douvry, Jason Giampietro, Jason Grisell, Hannah Gross, Eleanore Hendricks / Running time: 70 mins.
Stinking Heaven feels like a landmark culmination of the exciting experimentation that has made Nathan Silver one of the most respected figures in American indie cinema and the film festival circuit. Here, we find a lot of his favoured subjects and themes, such a hopeless search for utopia and an array of characters that seem broken.
Stinking Heaven takes place in a sober community and is made up of people trying to recover from a past of drug addiction. The strength of the film also comes from its authenticity – set at the start of the nineties, and shot with a video camera popular at those times that adds a type of texture that makes the colour palette look vibrant and pure.
This authenticity is also enhanced by the use of improvisation by the cast, a familiar technique in Silver’s filmmaking language, that treasures genuine awkwardness and accentuates it by allowing the camera to be almost too close to the characters, which makes the impact with a viewer all the more uncomfortable and real – especially as the emotional chaos of this one of a kind group portrait unfolds. – 5/5