Here's a film that has no distribution, and so far, that seems to have generated very little press buzz at the festival, but if the right company steps in, "Barry Munday" feels like a "Juno"-sized hit just waiting to happen, a crowd-pleaser with a big heart, sincere and silly and featuring a career-changing performance from Patrick Wilson. I have a feeling I have not heard the last of "Barry Munday."
There are few experiences that compare to walking into a festival film with no knowledge of what you're about to see, then reeling out the other end feeling like you've got a secret you want to share with everyone. "Barry Munday" is based on a novel called Life Is A Strange Place by Frank Turner Hollon, and it's got a denseness of character that makes it feel like a book. That's one of the things that helps when adapting from a novel... you get so much to draw from, and adaptation is a reductive process, gradually carving away all the things you don't want to get to the particular thing you do. The shift in title, from a general description of theme to a specific character's name, signals the intent of writer/director Chris D'Arienzo quite clearly. This is a man on a journey towards some sort of place in the world, and in playing the role, Patrick Wilson does more onscreen in this one film to convince me of his genuine gift as a performer than he's been allowed to do in his last five movies combined. Which is not to say I've thought he was a bad actor before this... it's just that you don't often find a role like Barry Munday.