Kickstarting my journey through Chad Lindberg’s back catalogue, I thought I’d start with this 2002 Indie flick written and directed by the Requa Brothers – Kelly and Tyler. Set and filmed in the area round Mount Vernon, Wa. it follows the choices made by two friends Harper (Chad Lindberg) and Luke (Sean Christensen). Harper is the outgoing of the two, the brash comedian whose attitude frustrates the calmer and more focused Luke, but its the quiet self-awareness of Paige, Luke’s girlfriend, that proves the catalyst to change their relationship and the direction their lives are going in.
‘The Flats’ is not a fast paced film, it chooses to be subtle in its telling of a story, taking its time to allow you to connect with the characters and care about what happens to them. The actors emote subtly and realistically, they don’t need to shove it into your face, they know the audience watching is smart enough to figure it out.
Chad Lindberg keeps the portrayal of Harper in check, not allowing him to get zany and over the top, but just on the edge of brash (and often drunk) as he tries to shirk his responsibility to the courts. Harper could initially be a little irritating, but his loyalty to Luke by not revealing him as his accomplice keeps you on his side. He allows vulnerability to show in small moments as his loyalty and growing sense of responsibility battles with his growing affection for Paige.
At the other end of the personality spectrum is Luke. Calm, composed, restrained and almost suffocated by his ‘better’ life; he’s the one that has a stable home, a girlfriend, an internship and a respectable future. Its this awkwardness that is reflected in his relationship with Paige, there is a lack of intimacy or confidentiality between them. Luke does not have the outgoing charisma that Harper does, and the attraction Paige has for him is obvious. Its easy to see why Luke and Harper are friends though, they balance each other out, they need each other’s extremes to change and grow.
Mount Vernon, originally a 19th Century logging town, is the ideal location for telling this story, and one to which the directors and actors clearly have a strong connection. Rivers, oceans, trains – all add to the feeling of transition and change, reflecting the relationship between Luke and Harper very effectively. Its not a common place to set a film, adding to its unique character and atmosphere.
The DVD itself had pretty poor audio quality, especially for a dialogue heavy film, so I think my house mate got to hear the film as well I had it up so loud (sorry Aeme) but it didn’t detract too much from a well told and well filmed story. If you want to step away from seeing Chad Lindberg as just Supernatural’s Dr Badass or Jessie in ‘The Fast and the Furious’ – this is a really good place to start.