Muse [Movie Review, Screened at FilmQuest Film Festival 2017]
Muse hints in its title at a high level to what the story is about. A struggling artist finds his muse, and in so doing rises quickly in the ranks of the southern California art scene. What the title doesn’t tell you is the story doesn’t retell the more common known story of the Greek muses. Instead it delves into the mythology of Ireland.
The story in Muse goes into deeper details of the overarching conflict between the blessing and the curse of finding your talent—finding your muse
Adam (Riley Egan) finds his muse. His work takes on a new emotional level he didn’t have before. Their relationship grows, along with his fame. But, there is a price because an Irish Muse, Leannan Si, is a jealous creature willing to defend their love from anything that would take them away.
As Adam’s fame grows a love interest begins to compete with the Leannan Si, at which point the artist must make a decision.
By going to Irish mythology this story takes unexpected twists. Choices come with greater consequences and Adam’s choices will affect others.
Adam’s studio/home, along with the surrounding area, does a great job of portraying the life of a struggling artist in the Los Angeles art scene. It builds what he is facing in his life and career.
The spaces used developed the story without needing the characters to be present. There was as much of the story being told with the location and layout of the rooms and the camera work as by the acting and the dialogue.
Muse uses intriguing story arcs. I enjoyed the fact that we were being introduced to something outside of Greek mythology. There were a couple of points I felt were weaker and took away from the overall storytelling of the film.
The introductory sequence introduces us to the muse, but we don’t know it until later. What we are given is an introduction to a supernatural creature with the capability of dealing destruction. Although it ties in later, the introduction felt disjointed from the rest of the story and the connection to the artist felt forced.
The other part that bothered me was a period of conversation to explain a Leannan Si. I’m sure this was information many people would need about a different mythology they are not used to hearing about. I felt much of the information had already been presented in earlier scenes and the additional information could have been covered in less of a maid and butler setting.
The lead actor, Riley Egan (nominated for Best Actor) sold the role of being the struggling artist. I’m sure it didn’t hurt he knew how to paint, and, therefore, able to portray painting in a realistic manner. He presented himself not only struggling financially, but as a person struggling in social settings. He gave a performance reflecting his character’s arc. At first, he showed the lack of confidence. Then, through the help of his muse, he gained the confidence to do incredible actions—many people would never dream of doing.
Elle Evans (nominated for Best Supporting Actress) plays his muse. She also gave a wonderful performance in a role which had its own difficulties: she has no lines. She successfully creates a performance telling her story without words. She also wonderfully represents her story arc of a creature of need.
Together, the two actors carry the audience forward in the story without the need of words.
I saw Muse at the 2017 FilmQuest Film Festival. It was nominated for five awards: Best Actor (Riley Egan), Best Supporting Actress (Elle Evans), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Score. It was written and directed by John Burr. Additional cast included Kate Mansi and Lou Ferrigno, Jr. Muse comes from the USA and runs 88 minutes.
Muse is a horror movie with an overture of sexuality. There is nudity and sexual situations. There is gore and splatter. There are decisions of embracing the darkness of the circumstance to create fame. This would get an R rating.
All of this comes together to tell a story with a twist. Even with the points mentioned above, this is a horror movie worth seeing.
I give Muse (3.5 / 5).
Muse is currently on the film festival circuit.