Ben Layton (Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley) still hasn’t gotten over the break-up with his ex-girlfriend. The emptiness becomes too great for Ben to handle and he tries to commit suicide, several times, but fails to complete the process. Feeling even worse after the entire ordeal, Ben finds a sense of purpose when he discovers that he almost had an adopted sister as a child. He tracks her down, a woman named Hanna (Jess Weixler, Teeth), and falls in love with her, which only makes his lonesome existence more complicated and screwed up than it already was.
Written by Jason Filiatrault (A Christmas Horror Story) and directed by Jason James, Entanglement is a romantic dark comedy that was initially promising because the trailer seemed to hint at a low budget film aiming to have an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kind of atmosphere to it. The film capitalizes on the type of awkward humor you’d find in the work of Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, Gentlemen Broncos), but is R-rated and more adult oriented. Entanglement begins with a slow crawl following the duct taped garden hose that runs from Ben’s running car to his apartment window. As Ben narrates his suicide note, someone steals his car before he can finish the job and all of his suicide attempts come up short in similar ways; closet fixture collapses before he can hang himself, throws a toaster in the bathtub before he gets into it, and the doorbell buzzes after he slits his wrists and gets in the bathtub.
Entanglement becomes a wild goose chase for Ben as he scrambles to discover what life choice or choices catapulted him into the lifetime of suck he now occupies. Hanna is originally a ray of hope for Ben even before he falls in love with her. Ben is crippled by his depression and consistently doubts every decision that he makes. In a way, Entanglement is Ben’s last ditch effort to find something that will make him happy. The easy way out is showing Ben that he has more to accomplish in this plane of reality, but it all seems hopeless until he meets Hanna.
It’s not difficult to predict where Entanglement is going. The film makes an effort to show the audience that Ben isn’t thinking clearly and is emotionally overcome with unhealthy thoughts and feelings. There’s the animated deer Ben and Hanna encounter in the forest, the jellyfish that swim around them at the indoor pool they break into overnight, the arguments he has with his own reflection, and the hand puppet at his psychiatrist’s office that only seems to taunt him. The resolve is foreseeable, but Entanglement has this believable execution that makes it all worthwhile. Ben’s journey is clumsy and murky as if his head is being held underwater for nearly the entire film, but he eventually learns to swim with his head above those muddy waters.
Hanna seems to awaken this rebellious side of Ben no one has seen before. She pushes him to take risks and come out of his shell to accomplish extraordinary things he wouldn’t normally do. Hanna wants Ben to know that his broken heart is still beating and that feeling something other than numb sadness is the most exhilarating sensation in the world. His next door neighbor Tabby (Diana Bang, The Interview) seems to be the one attempting to keep Ben’s life organized as he struggles to find meaning. She’s the voice of reason, logical, and tells things like it is without sugar coating them. In a way, Hanna is the devil on Ben’s shoulder encouraging him to break the rules and get into mischief while Tabby is the angel on his opposing shoulder advising him that everything he’s ever wanted has been right under his nose the entire time.
Entanglement explores depression in a way that is genuine and satisfying. The film dives into Ben’s psyche that is both believable and relatable if you’ve ever experienced the mental and emotional state for a long period of time. Depression clouds your judgement and cripples you from doing the things you love. Entanglement gives the message that fixing yourself isn’t always found in the company of another person, but is sometimes buried within the forgotten depths of our souls. Funny at times and debilitating at others, Entanglement shines a spotlight on how vulnerable we can be as we swim through the lugubrious waters of a permanent estrangement and proves that no matter how weak and hopeless we feel our lives are often much more enjoyable than we care to admit.
Entanglement is now playing in select theaters and is available On Demand/Digital HD.