Review: 12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle (2.5 stars of 5)

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12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle is a Georgia-grown film from director Fran Burst-Terranella and writer George Carlos. It premiered at the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival, and has played at Milledgeville Film Festival, Rome International Film Festival, Digital Griffix Online Film Festival, South Georgia Film Festival, and it was the official closing night film of the American Filmatic Arts Awards in Brooklyn Heights, NY.

The SAG-indie with the micro-budget of less than $150,000 has won many awards since its premiere last year, but I wonder “why?”.  The film isn’t officially bad, but it definitely isn’t good. In seeing the film at the Women in Film and Television Atlanta International Women’s Day event on March 8th, I was shocked by all of the accolades. I watched and found problems with two key elements of the film: the acting and the writing. The cinematography wasn’t bad and I wasn’t too keen on the music. The directing was adequate, but the film as a whole wasn’t much to write home about.

The story premise was good; a 20-something escapes her everyday world by writing in journals to explore the lives could be living. 12 lives is a lot of life. The lines of reality and fantasy could be blurred in such a way that the audience is blissfully unaware of the difference between the two, but that was not the case. There are a few moments like that in the film; they were well-executed and laughable.

The film starts strong enough. The opening scene definitely made me want to watch more; it is the rest of the film that left a lot to be desired. Director Fran Burst-Terranella said the original script was 120+ pages, but the resulting film is only 83 minutes; a lot of the film was cut out. The film I saw made me wonder about the other 40 pages. Was the key to making the whole film more enjoyable lost with those 40 pages?

The acting in 12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle wasn’t completely terrible, or even all that bad; it just could have been a little bit better. There were times when Sissy acted much younger than 27, like 12; it was frustrating and felt a little forced.

The direction of the film wasn’t bad. There were some individual shots that were beautifully composed, but a few shots do not make a Whole film. I give the film 2.5 of 5 stars.

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