Love and loss form the central tenets of the story in the new film Nostalgia. It’s all about memories and connections and how we relate to one another.
That’s about all that’s been publicly shared about the story and, as we’ll see, the marketing doesn’t offer much more. What is shown is that there’s a solid cast involved, including Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener, Bruce Dern, Nick Offerman, Ellen Burstyn and others, some related to each other and some not in a set of stories about growing up and dealing with the past and preparing for the future.
The first poster presents outlines of the cast’s heads and torsos as cutouts on a sheet of paper that looks like it might be the faded page of an old journal or something like that. It’s a nice way to convey some of the story’s elements, particularly how the faces of the characters are missing, showing someone that’s faded away or otherwise been removed from the narrative.
There’s more on the theatrical poster but not much. A single man – it looks like Hamm’s character – stands in the doorway while leaving a room and walking away from the camera. That room he’s leaving has all kinds of items in it like an old TV, suitcase, exercise machine and more. It kind of looks like he’s in the middle of evaluating all the stuff that’s been left behind or something.
It seems counter-intuitive to not use the faces of the cast here, but I get what they’re going for, which is the fallibility of memory. They’re both good efforts.
As the trailer opens Helen is showing someone around the smoldering remains of her burnt home, talking about how she was faced with the decision of what to take as she evacuated. She continues narrating and talking about the meaning we assign to things as we see scenes of Will, Donna, Donald and others as they evaluate the value of items, discuss lives lived in a single home and more. How those connections are difficult to pass on as a teenage daughter explains a room does nothing for her because it’s not her space.
If there’s any connective material here it’s in the insurance agent played by John Ortiz as he appears to interact with a few of the different characters. Otherwise this is a tone poem of a trailer that’s more concerned with emotion than with presenting a coherent story. It almost comes off as a discount version of a Terrence Malick film with its hazy colors and long shots of people gazing off into the middle distance.
Online and Social
Almost nothing on the webpage for the movie, just some modified key art, the trailer, a cast and crew list and a very brief story synopsis.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There’s been no advertising done that I’m aware of.
Media and Publicity
A few first look stills were released well ahead of the movie’s official coming out party at Sundance 2017, where it was quickly acquired by Bleecker Street. Unfortunately it then sat around for a year.
Director Mark Pellington talked about the allure of nostalgia and how much he values the memorabilia and other items he’s accumulated over the years here, sharing how that obsession with collections helped him connect with the story, which was co-written by Alex Ross Perry.
It can’t be great that the movie has been waiting a year between it debuting at Sundance to it finally hitting limited release. Some of that may be because of Bleecker Street’s financial issues, but even that belies a lack of confidence in the film that will have some people worried about its quality.
The shame of it is there does look to be an interesting story here. Assuming this isn’t actually a Malick-esque meditation on the meaning of nothingness and more of a direct examination of how things trigger memories in people that could be a bit original and intriguing. It’s odd that the cast isn’t used more to make the case for the film, but I understand the desire to make it more of a character study than a name-driven item. A mixed and uncertain bag, to be sure.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.
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