SXSW 2017: Bad Lucky Goat
There are weird movies, and movies that are weird for the sake of being weird; Bad Lucky Goat certainly is a strange film with a certifiable degree of weirdness, but it’s not emphatically so, which is precisely why the bizarre film's story plays out so well.
Played in a 24-hour time cycle, Bad Lucky Goat follows it’s mismatched sibling protagonists Corn and Rita, and their series of misadventures they embark on after they hit a goat with their father's truck. Like any adolescent family members, they constantly bicker and can't stand one another, but they have to join forces, or else they’ll catch hell from their parents for damaging their car. What sounds like a typical coming of age comedy finds its groove by imbuing the beautiful oceanside setting, and more significantly, the cultural atmosphere and folklore of its Columbian locale.
The film is imaginatively cultivated by debut feature director Samir Oliveros (with some stunning compositions from cinematographer David Curto), who offers a zany and quirky story with a deliberate, relaxed tone. Each narrative ascension leads to a composed set-up, but there’s a natural flow that makes every turn exploratory and fun - Rita and Corn bounce from a collection of colorful encounters with various locals. The overall running time is short, but this is a busy little film with style to spare. With witch doctors, bumbling cops, sheisty butchers, and pawn shop operators, there’s an unexpectedly delightful Hawksian quality in the light humor these characters bring to the table.
For all the wheeling and dealing, Bad Lucky Goat has an atmosphere unto itself with naturalistic flavor, a highlight including a group of musicians wading in an inlet, drumming on bottles, playing flutes, and blowing on conch shells, for an informal Greek chorus. Everything has unique characteristics where reality is obscured with gleeful abandon, there's a beautiful symmetry to the images, and it's all framed with a Demy-inspired color coding, comprised of long takes, often tracking the two young leads speeding around on a dirt bike from one spot to another.
Does all of the erratic mysticism add up? Not always, but it leaves you with a strangely jazzy vibration that’s quite unlike anything else. In the league of independent features “quirky” is usually synonymous with annoying, but Samir Oliveros does what (I wish) more young filmmakers would do; take advantage of the intangible plot devices (time, stakes, locale) and shape it into their story. That’s where Bad Lucky Goat excels the most (the awesome Creole Reggae soundtrack helps too!).