by Jody Key – Managing Editor
Comfortless, a film by Ryan Manley, premiered to a sold-out audience today at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta. Manley, a 17-year-old filmmaker wrote and directed the film. Says Manley, “I feel as though the story we are telling is a relevant one, particularly important at this moment in time. It’s the biggest project I have ever worked on.”
The audience was appreciative of the film, which tells the story of teenage Rebecca (played by Madison Sturges), recalling to her therapist, Dr. WIlliams (played by Jo Ann Clark) the events of Rebecca’s relationship with Thomas (played by Jared Battle). As the events unfold, the audience quickly realizes that Rebecca has stepped into an abusive relationship to the point that she fears for her life. With the help of her friend, Anna (played by Madeline Smith) Rebecca is able to see the danger she’s in, yet she finds she’s in too deep, and Thomas is relentless in getting what he wants.
The entire film was shot with an i-phone, which gives it a raw, edgy look and feel. The audience feels as if they are witnessing the everyday events as they unfold. The scenes in the therapist office offer continuity and retrospect as Rebecca works through her feelings.
Madison Sturges as Rebecca carries the story and her performance displays a range of emotions beginning with the happiness of being in a relationship and moving toward anger, fear, and finally remorse as she recalls the events to Dr. Williams.
Jo Ann Clark as Dr. Williams offers comfort and a listening ear to Rebecca as the story is recounted. Her performance was compassionate and caring.
Jared Battle’s performance as Thomas is hauntingly stoic. The calculated way Thomas lures Rebecca as well as the way he portrays his actions toward her during the more abusive scenes display him as a cool sociopath who doesn’t seem to have any remorse for his actions.
Madeline Smith as Anna offers the compassion and support that Rebecca needs to help her see the dangers she’s in with this relationship. Her performance as a loyal and compassionate friend felt genuine and believable.
It’s refreshing to see a film produced from the perspective of today’s young people. We wish Ryan Manley and the cast of Comfortless success as they continue to market this film.