Check out our film review for independent standout film Burning Bodhi!
Starring: Kaley Cuoco, Sasha Pieterse, Cody Horn, Virginia Madsen and Landon Liboiron
Written by: Matthew McDuffie
Directed by: Matthew McDuffie
Produced by: Marshall Bear
Running Time: 93 min
Synopsis: Lifelong friends stumble back home after high school when word goes out on Facebook that the most popular among them has died. Old girlfriends, boyfriends, new lovers, parents… The reunion stirs up feelings of love, longing and regret, intertwined with the novelty of forgiveness, mortality and gratitude. A “Big Chill” for a new generation.
The opening sequence of the film, with the news hitting various characters of their friend’s passing, so beautifully captured the wide array of human emotions. This immediately set the precedence for the film’s tone, and the film remained true to this from start to finish. Each character had such visceral reactions, that you couldn’t help but instantly connect to them.
Kaley Cuoco is unrecognizable as Katy, the tormented, mysterious woman who lost it all. Her character captivated me from the start as I found myself drawn to the allure of what she once was and how she got to the point where she is now. There’s a line in which Katy says, “Before I die, I just want one day where I don’t hate myself. And feel beautiful.” Cuoco plays this role so beautifully and honestly, she broke my heart in her portrayal.
Cody Horn effortlessly portrays the bubbly, charismatic Ember – who wears her unrelenting optimism as a mask to hide behind the pain. She loves a girl she knows will never love her back, not in the way she wants, and this makes her so relatable.
The newly found love between Aria (Sasha Pieterse) and Miguel (Eli Vargas) was refreshing to watch, and both actors really brought an innocence to their characters that was so sweet to watch.
Confused, noble, but likeable Dylan, played by Landon Liboiron, undergoes an internal struggle throughout the film as he tries to sort through all the raw emotions that come up when you see your first love after a long time apart. His character at times can appear a little self-righteous as he struggles to understand and forgive those around him who have made mistakes, but you get to see the beginning of a transformation in him by the film’s end as he learns how to forgive.
There’s a pivotal scene between Dylan and Katy where they’re texting back and forth, and you can see so clearly Katy’s inner turmoil as she struggles to choose between what she wants and what she knows she needs. It’s the age-old debate of choosing between your heart and your head. This scene really had me on the edge of my seat as I anticipated their responses to one another. It was beautifully written and the actors did a remarkable job of making it feel so heartbreakingly honest.
The cinematography of the film was fantastic. The filming locations really painted a picture of the town they lived in, and helped viewers see how these characters developed in that environment.
At the core of it all, the film is about love. First loves. Unrequited love. Old love. New love. Doomed love. Complicated love. But it’s also about moving on, letting go and learning to forgive in the most unforgiving circumstances. And choosing to do what is good for you, despite what you want to do. I must admit I was rooting for a certain couple (I won’t spoil this) to reconcile that did not, but ultimately their staying apart was way more realistic and truthful to these characters. It’s a story about love, loss and forgiveness and will keep you thinking about the film long after watching it. Ultimately, what more could you ask for in a film? I strongly recommend seeing this film!
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Burning Bodhi opens in select theaters across the US beginning March 18. Check out the schedule HERE.
For more information on the film, visit their website at: http://www.montereymedia.com/burningbodhi/