Baystate Blues is a captivating emotional drama film from independent filmmaker Mark Lewis. Set in small town America we follow a day in the life of a dysfunctional family as they struggle to cope with their lives and relationships.
The central couple are Devon and Mike. Devon is depressed having suffered a car accident six months ago and as she hobbles around on a cane it´s all too obvious life has not turned out the way she wished for. Her bitterness at her own situation is taken out on her husband Mike, a down to earth worker who is solid and dependable but without ambition. Thrown into the mix are Devon´s two sisters; older serious sister, Virginia, who works in an office and younger head in the clouds sister, Alex, who sees herself as a creative.
The film begins with a normal day in their life; they all meet briefly round the breakfast table before Mike goes off to work. During the day Devon bumps into an old flame who is in a successful band and the two catch up. Later that night the group get together for a night of drinking and games but soon after the alcohol begins to flow the problems start. Virginia brings her old boyfriend, Jason, which causes a bit of a stir but despite things starting out relaxed they soon take a turn for the worse as Devon starts brooding and gets upset. While her and Mike´s relationship crumbles Jason tries to build his relationship with Virginia anew.
The acting here is very naturalistic and the characters are brought to life beautifully it´s easy to empathise with them and the emotional scenes are extremely well acted. Scott Lewis is very convincing as Mike, Allyson Sereboff is equally excellent as Devon and the chemistry between these two, or lack of, really works well for the story. Astoundingly for a low budget indie flick there are no bad performances.
The film was written and directed by Mark Lewis. The writing feels authentic and there are some nice touches of humour along the way. The direction is skilled and Lewis often uses extreme close-ups which help to draw the viewer into the emotion of each scene. Things start out quite slowly but this mirrors the sleepy lifestyle of small town America and the locations are well chosen and beautifully filmed. If I had to criticise perhaps the break into chapters with headings isn´t necessary as they don´t convey anything important and the music, while enjoyable, is sometimes a bit intrusive but on the whole Lewis has done a very good job.
One of the most appealing things about this film is the sense of reality and this is where it deviates most profoundly from mainstream romance films. There´s no compromising by tacking on a heart warming ending and despite the touches of humour it remains understated, subtle and real. Baystate Blues is deserving of an audience as it is thoroughly absorbing and skilfully made and easily one of the best independent films I´ve seen.