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August 5, 2014

Movie Review: Soft in the Head (2014)

Directed by Nathan Silver

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Every once in a while you come away from a motion picture, worrying … was I supposed to laugh? Would people think less of me if I did? Giving new meaning to the film “indie comedy,” Soft in the Head has many such moments. The characters range from flaky to dysfunctional to outrageously psychotic, all of them living far below their potential.

Set in contemporary Manhattan, Soft in the Head stars Sheila Etxeberría as Natalia, a beautiful 25-year-old “free spirit” that everyone wants to strangle. Alienating friends and family with a goofy smile perpetually on her face, she’s turned out on the street when she meets a kindly elderly man named Maury (Ed Kane). He offers her a place to stay with no strings attached … before you assume the worst, it turns out that Maury’s apartment is an undeclared homeless shelter housing some of the most out-to-lunch street crazies imaginable.

Due in large part to cinematography that is palsied and hand-held, one wonder is Soft in the Head is a documentary instead of a narrative feature. One street crazy, David (Theodore Bouloukos) is SO out of control – and hilarious! – This reviewer wondered if he wandered off the street and commandeered the filmmakers. Big and fat, Bouloukos wails, shouts and gives his unfiltered opinion to everyone at a moment’s notice. One classic line said to Natalia’s would-be boyfriend: “Natalia only likes heterosexual men!” Luckily, I checked this actor’s iMDB page and found out that he has many distinguished films to his credit. Bouloukos would make for an ideal Leatherface in a Texas Chainsaw installment.

Gathering a group of unwanted homeless people without the benefit of psychiatric assistance or behavioral drugs is a recipe for disaster. Unswerving to give his family unconditional love, Maury leaves his charges alone one night and everything predictably spirals into high tragedy.

Running a tight 70 minutes, Soft in the Head is not for everyone. It’s raw and uncompromising, and presents characters that normally would inspire pity and compassion with all-too human failings. Bad behavior is bad behavior, whether intentional or not, and someone has to pay – sometimes dearly – for their missteps and misjudgments.

Featuring a cast that Todd Solondz would kill for, Soft in the Head offers up a hilarious and heartbreaking view of life lived in extremis. It is currently available as VOD. Check it out!   

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