Austin Film Festival Review: Holding Patterns

A great ensemble supports this tale of twentysomething ennui

Austin Film Festival Review: Holding Patterns

A holding pattern is the polite way to describe Charlie’s current situation. In his mid-20s and living with his parents, Charlie is employed as the assistant manager of the local movie theatre. His life demands little from him – or he from it. Then, his feelings for a girl breaks through the inertia.

It’s not the usual twentysomething angst or ennui that have dug Charlie’s rut. Once a promising young chef, Charlie’s future got waylaid by a sudden tragedy to which he responded by retreating into what was easy and familial. We learn these things about the character as the movie progresses. In the meantime, we watch as he pursues the girl who works in the Calf Fiend coffee shop. A date with her is the first thing he’s desired in a long time. He returns to the shop until she relents and shows him some kindness, even though she has a steady boyfriend. It seems her life is in something of a holding pattern, too.

Writer/director Jake Goldberger’s Holding Patterns is buoyed by a superlative cast. Freddie Highmore (once known as Charlie, the golden-ticket holder, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) stars here as another Charlie, a role to which he brings a naturalistic sheen. Charlie’s best friend Ben (Haley Joel Osment) and his family provide supportive nurture, but they, too, seem stuck as to how to help Charlie over his emotional hump. Then Ben pushes his friend out the car door toward the front steps of the coffee shop where Amber (Odeya Rush, a very appealing young actress) works, and Charlie’s reabsorption into life begins. Bolstering these performances are those of veterans Marg Helgenberger as Charlie’s sympathetic mom, and Christopher Meloni as her miscreant ex-husband and Charlie’s biological dad (in a subplot that feels somewhat tangential). Hidden Patterns has an easygoing charm that should earn it a solid place among the subset of movies about young people who emerge from their small-town cocoons and screw up their courage to take flight for the bright lights of New York City.

Holding Patterns screens again Tuesday, Oct. 18, 9:30pm, Texas Spirit Theater.

The Austin Film Festival runs Thu., Oct. 13, through Thu., Oct. 20. See for schedule and info. Follow our continuing coverage of the fest at www.austinchronicle/austin-film-festival.

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Austin Film Festival 2016, Austin Film Festival, Holding Patterns

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