Over time, the concept of adolescence has evolved in various ways. Just over a hundred years ago, it was not uncommon to see girls marrying at age fifteen. Today there is a rise in the numbers of college graduates living with their parents well into their twenties. So, the question is not only “When does adolescence end and adulthood begin?” but “How does it begin?” While never stated explicitly, these questions are at the heart of Michael Licisyn’s film “No Footing.”
Aspiring artist Madison (Jensen Bucher) finds herself in this crossroads of maturity, barely making it on her own but definitely ready to get on with her life. A year and a half after graduating from college, saddled with a degree in Fine Arts and a portfolio that has not been generating any interest from the publishers, graphic design or advertising agencies that she’s been sending to Madison toils away in a copy shop and wonders where her life went wrong. In the meantime, she watches as friends from high school move on, grow up, get “real” jobs and start families while her own loutish boyfriend seems be content to remain a college boy forever -- with disastrous results.
Newly single and stuck in a rut, Madison meets a handsome, charming guy, Christopher (Jake Matthews), who, like her, has an artistic bent that she can relate to, like a kindred spirit and sparks fly. Much to Licisyn’s credit, he puts a rich, original spin on the relationship that develops Madison and Christopher. The perspectives from which they both view their similar but different situations are fascinating, a real discourse on the varied paths that hopes and dreams can take. Far better than many other films on the subject of what has come to be known as a Quarter Life Crisis, Licisyn, his cast and crew really hits the nail on the head.
Less a conventional narrative with plot points and act breaks, the film is more a slice of life, a character study and, accordingly, the pacing is often leisurely and the film sometimes feels like it isn’t going anywhere but this is an effective choice, sort of mirroring the state of things in Madison’s life. The only thing that occasionally gets in the way is the sometimes overbearing soundtrack, a not uncommon device/trap that many indie filmmakers sometimes over-rely on: blasting music over the action to serve as an emotional cue. A song here and there might work fine now and then but, once it gets to be four, five or more musical sequences in an 80 minute film, it can get a little tired.
Boasting nice production values, camera work that is well above-average for a low-budget indie and wildly appealing performances (including a standout supporting performance by Derek Lindeman as Madison’s boss and a hilarious cameo by Michael Bower), “No Footing” is rich, provocative and is likely to resonate with a sizable audience of artists, musicians, actors, writers and filmmakers who will easily relate to Madison’s situation.