Director: Ross Munro
Cast: Ross Munro, Robert David Duncan, Abby de Forest
Plot: Aspiring actor, Mitch (Munro) tries to balance a major audition and a reunion with his troublesome childhood friend (Duncan) with unfortunate consequences.
A Legacy of Whining is all about maturity. Or perhaps the lack of maturity. The interesting thing about each of the lead characters in this independent film from Canada is that each of them assumes they have reached maturity, but mock their friend’s lack of it. In truth, neither of them come close to touching maturity. Mitch sees maturity as enlightenment that moment in your life, where you look back on your younger self with wise adages and pearls of wisdom. Therefore, we find Mitch supposedly content in a new career path (fledgling actor), and bursting with pop culture references and mantras. He almost treats his transformation into a 49 year old wise man as a luxury, treating himself to revisiting old haunts with his school friend as a treat for reaching this new era in his life. In truth, he is a faded man-child, struggling to grasp any form of social relationship. Alone, unmarried, he is stuck in a rut, but chooses to ignore his failings out of blissful ignorance. His childhood friend, Dunc, whose reunion triggers the narrative of the film, calls him out on all of these issues. However, Dunc is just as immature, if only in different ways. Dunc sees escape from the past as a measure of maturity. He has moved on from his old life, all of Mitch’s reminiscing stories a distant memory to him. How can you claim to be a mature, functioning adult when you are so desperately clinging to the past? But what Dunc doesn’t see is that he has come full circle to the point where he has regressed into an impulsive teenager once again. Fresh from a failed marriage, he gets wrapped up in one night stands and sarcastic defences to protect his ‘mature’ lifestyle. Interestingly, Dunc isn’t as secure as one would like to think, the subtext dripping with his insecurities. One questions why he is bothering with this reunion in the first place, seeing as he is always so quick to dismiss it. There is a sense that he needs Mitch to fuel his mid-life crisis. Every encounter with women seems to involve Mitch going in head-first, testing the waters, for Dunc to pick up the pieces. A Legacy of Whining is very clever in exploring that just because you hit old age, doesn’t necessarily mean you have achieved maturity.
It is a topic ripe for comedy and the two lead actors, Munro directing as well, make good use of their chance to explore both jokes and an appealing character drama. They each have natural comedy, Munro falling back on a fish out of water oddball character and Duncan using natural cynical charisma. Despite their flaws, they are easy to like. This is an essential strong point for the film, because sadly, they aren’t quite given enough fun moments to test out their roles. It is hard to notice that this is a feature film consisting of three major scenes strung together. There is the initial meeting in the airport and the parking lot. Then there is a lengthy scene in a coffee shop that consists of most of the film. Even the finale in a Cuban resistance club/brothel is mostly funny monologues. It means that the actors are asked to shoulder the entire weight of the movie in their comedy timing and abilities as story-tellers. They do remarkably well, considering. The running time flies by which is a lot to be said when there is a twenty minute scene where the two of them talk about cinnamon coffee. But it also feels like a film held back by its lack of budget. The cast and crew have beats of inspiration that suggest they are capable of more. An interesting epilogue where Mitch finally gets to the audition screams existential pondering. A limo driver crops up multiple times, like a seemingly all-knowing presence. Flashes of Mitch’s imagination provide the snappier comedy that perhaps could have lifted A Legacy of Whining that little bit higher. As it stands, this independent feature doesn’t quite manage much other than interesting and charming. But then again, that is a lot more than most of the competition musters.
Final Verdict: A Legacy of Whining could have done with more immediate comedy, but the leads manage an amusing character study of two immature men in their 50s.
A Legacy of Whining is free to view right now with Amazon Prime.