The Enormity of Life
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Year Released: 2021
Runtime: 1h 42m
Director(s): Eric Swinderman
Writer(s): Eric Swinderman, Carmen DeFranco
Cast: Breckin Meyer, Emily Kinney, Giselle Eisenberg
Where To Watch: Premiering via virtual cinema, VOD & digital today.
A perfect storm of the right people at the right place and time led to this incredibly topical film. Director Eric Swinderman had previously made a film called MADE IN CLEVELAND which starred Busy Philipps (FREAKS & GEEKS) and Gillian Jacobs (COMMUNITY); after immediately making a name for himself in film, he was able to get his script to Abby Elliott (2nd generation SNL alumni, daughter of Chris Elliott.)
Abby had initially been in line to star in this film but had to drop out before production; her talent agency went to their roster and helped find Emily Kinney (THE WALKING DEAD) to join the cast, which already had Breckin Meyer (ROAD TRIP, CLUELESS) and with Giselle Eisenberg (LIFE IN PIECES) rounding out the cast we were given this great trio. All three did a stellar job, and their “mixed” worlds come together in a fantastic vision realized.
Production took place all over Northeast Ohio, lasting for about 21 days, including the director's hometown of New Philadelphia. Which such a great cast, Swinderman didn’t ask for auditions; instead, he flew out to L.A. and had dinner and spoke about his vision and theirs.
This film deals with many heavy topics, from mental health to suicide, as well as the ever-present trauma in modern-day America of school shootings. However, Swinderman pointed out that he didn’t want to make light of these topics; instead, he did his homework and wrote somewhat of a call to action without meaning. He had initially written the script back in 2015 and had no clue that it would still be as relevant today as it is.
Swinderman mentions, “Cinematically; I was inspired by films like GARDEN STATE, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, AWAY WE GO, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, all films with quirky but complex characters in need of a journey and great music.” His goal was to create discussions; this film will do that and more! You can feel that throughout the film, and that is partially why this smaller film feels so much bigger than it is. I promise that you will have an emotional toll taken by the time the credits roll. It may be a challenge, but it rings so true to life.
After the credits roll, a simple graphic shows, “Since Columbine, there have been 85 school shootings. Those shootings have killed 223 people, including students, teachers, and staff.” Sadly that message is already outdated because America can’t seem to get a grip on the core issue of gun violence in America. Even with recently passed legislation, the problem largely remains unchanged.
I will say the light at the end of another tunnel for another of the film's topics is that America finally passed legislation to change the ridiculous 1-800 number for the suicide and crisis lifeline to a simple “988” you can text, call, or message it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in English and Spanish. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re in need; that’s what the number is there for!
Thanks to Anhedonia Pictures, Bayview Entertainment, and Foundry Communications.
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