From first time writer and director Alain Nouvel, State (Remix) is a serious-minded drama that deals with the topic of PTSD. That in itself has to be a trigger warning; I interviewed America Ferrera about a film she’s made on the subject (The Dry Lands), and she admitted that many of the people the film was relevant to would find it too traumatic to watch. Nouvel takes a more classical approach, with events building to a quite theatrical conclusion, but it’s certainly worth a look as alternative viewing for free if you’re already on Amazon Prime or on the website link below.
We don’t have character names to play with here; a young man (Patrick Thomas Cragin) returns home from a conflict, and suffers for his experiences. His grandfather (Myles MacVane) has his own issues; a veteran himself, he’s planning a suicide attempt in his own home when the younger man disturbs him. Both men have issues to work out; State (Remix) is concerned with the overt drama that comes out of the direct clash between the two men.
State (Remix) has some startling moments that demand attention; the young man loses his sense of time as he gets off a train at the station, and we feel that moment of dislocation through a smart edit. Nouvel’s film is most effective in the build-up to the meeting between the two men, although the confrontation isn’t as well lit might be desired; it’s one thing to admire Kubrick’s use of natural light in Barry Lyndon, but it’s hard to get the same kind of effect on $20,000 and an eight-day shoot. There’s also a self-referential exchange between the young man and his girlfriend (Courtney Strum) that might have been excised; dialogue in films about the nature of dialogue in films might seem ingenious in conception, but runs the risk of taking the audience out of the moment.
Such criticism aside, State (Remix) is a first film that has a tight grip on drama, a relevant subject to tackle, and committed, raw performances that help the film stick in the memory. That grip eventually loosens because the film’s cinematic qualities are largely in the skilful cross-cutting of the opening sequences and closing scenes, but State (Remix) has enough meat on the bones to make it worth a try if the subject matter appeals.