Written and directed by real-life couple Dominque Braun and Terrence Martin, Get Away If You Can is a surreal, and occasionally baffling, thriller.
We open on a small sailboat in the open ocean. In an effort to save their sinking relationship, a married couple (played by Braun and Martin) have embarked on a sailing trip. The cinematography in these opening scenes is thoughtful and deliberate. Tight, close-up shots emphasize the cramped and claustrophobic quarters of the small vessel. We see the couple take turns at the helm, and each shot becomes shorter. The effect is striking. Repetition and flashbacks are used to provide vital information about the couple and communicate the boredom and fatigue of open ocean sailing. The journey is a grueling one, and the relationship is clearly strained – TJ (Martin) rejects his wife’s sexual advances, and Domi (Braun) spends her time on deck getting high and watching the watery horizon.
When they finally spot land, things come to a head. Domi wants to spend a few days resting and checking out the deserted island, while TJ just wants to push forward and keep to the schedule. The disagreement leads to an explosive argument and Domi leaves for the island – alone.
As Domi and TJ navigate the choppy waters of their relationship, the narrative shifts between their present predicament and flashbacks of their life before the trip.
Domi, an artist from Argentina, recalls her conversations with her sister who offers support and assurance as Domi faces the challenge of a new marriage in a new country. TJ, on the other hand, thinks back to the world of stability and work that he left behind.
Visually, Get Away If You Can is a striking film. The landscape of the island is beautiful and strange. The experience of sailing on the open ocean is muted and grey, while vivid and surreal sequences reveal deep emotional truths about the characters.
Unfortunately, the characters and script aren’t nearly as compelling as the cinematography. I found it difficult to connect to the couple, or care about their relationship. It’s never completely clear why they are drawn to each other or what makes their marriage worth saving. Their fighting quickly becomes irritating and repetitive, making the film feel longer than its meager runtime.
While an effort is made to touch on themes of gender and the different pressures that men and women face in relationships, these ideas don’t feel fully formed or believable. While Ed Harris (yes, THAT Ed Harris) delivers a compelling performance as TJ’s misogynistic, business-tycoon father, his dialogue is too on-the-nose to be believable. Despite Harris’ talent, the character feels more like a cartoon villain than a thoughtful portrait of patriarchal values.
I didn’t hate Get Away If You Can, but the story and script were underwhelming. Though things between the couple take several strange and unexpected turns, the stakes simply weren’t high enough for me to care. Both Domi and TJ are so unbelievable as real people that it was impossible to be truly invested in the outcome of their journey.
It’s bumpy sailing, that’s for sure.
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