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Wayback Wednesday: Antiquities (2018)

Leave this antique on the shelf.

I don’t think that anyone, even hardcore fans of independent movies, have heard of Antiquities (2018). I myself wasn’t even aware of its existence until a couple months ago. But because I’m easily swayed by a cute trailer, the promise of a handful of actors I enjoy, and more than one solid review, I thought I’d give it a chance. After a month of steady horror reviews (which I LOVED, by the way), I wanted to watch something completely unpredictable for this week’s Wayback. And what’s more unpredictable than a movie I know next to nothing about? Spoiler alert, after watching I still know next to nothing about this movie.

Credit: / The Industry & Company / The Orchard

Antiquities tells the story of Walt, an adult man who after losing his father, goes to work at the same antique mall he worked at in order to feel closer to him. There he meets a collection of oddball employees and unexpectedly, begins to find himself as well.

Look, that’s a pretty bare-bones summary, but Antiquities is a pretty bare-bones movie. The plot is so razor-thin that the movie as a whole is practically inconsequential, and honestly, I feel like it ended with less clarity than when it started. There’s so much that can be done with the premise of a man wanting to feel closer to his dead father but Antiquities largely ignores its own plot. Seriously, the idea of furthering the plot seemed like an afterthought to the movie’s director. Instead of crafting a tender, introspective, and poignant story about a man deepening his relationship with his father, the movie spins its wheels for 90 minutes and gives attention to the most mundane, dull, meaningless plot points possible. The potential for an offbeat, charming dramedy is there, but Antiquities feels lost and confused, unsure of what story it wants to tell or how to tell it in an engaging way. Cheap and simple, but also trying much too hard to leave a lasting impression, Antiquities feels like someone’s self-indulgent student film. Or like the pilot of a bad sitcom. Antiquities lacks the spark and depth that make even the most unknown of indie movies worthwhile.

Credit: / The Industry & Company / The Orchard

The movie starts on a promising note. Creative opening credits and beautiful shots of the quaintest little town since Star’s Hollow had me confident in my choice for his week’s Wayback. Then 20 minutes went by and I could not believe that I still had over an hour of incredibly dull movie to soldier on through. Antiquities tries so hard to be funny, offbeat, and endearing but it fails spectacularly. In trying to force its quirkiness in both set design and the writing of the secondary characters, the whole thing comes off feeling artificial. I mean, if you somehow manage to bungle the “bizarre townspeople” trope, a tried and true way to inject some comedy into your story, I don’t know what to tell you. Clearly writing comedy is not your forte. Coming off extremely bland and unremarkable, watching this movie is like watching someone cover a beige wall with beige wallpaper. In fact, I found the dialogue coming out of the character’s mouths so pointless that my brain shut off anytime anyone who wasn’t Walt started speaking. So how’d I spend most of the movie? Patiently waiting for Mary Steenburgen to show up of course. Plot twist, she’s only in two brief scenes! I. WAS. PISSED. Just when I thought the movie can’t possibly torture me anymore.

Every character who isn’t Walt is annoyingly one-note. Each one seems to have been written wth the mentality of, “how kooky and uncomfortable can I make this character?” Each one is written as the token oddball (which ultimately makes none of them seem like much of an oddball), with zero understanding of personal space and even less understanding of what makes for an energetic performance. None of the characters speak in a way that is realistic or remotely memorable, and what’s worse is that none of the actors are given any material to work with in an attempt to try and save this bland movie. Michaela Watkins is the one who comes closest, proving as always to be a comedy heavy-hitter who always manages to be the best part of whatever movie she’s in. A great actress, she always gives me something different each time I see her pop up in something. Unfortunately for Antiquities, she’s grossly underutilized. It’s also unfortunate how little chemistry Andrew J. West, who plays Walt, and Ashley Greene, who plays love interest Ellie, share. West is a charming, competent leading man but even his magnetic personality isn’t enough to get me invested in this stale romance.

I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by Antiquities but ended up being thoroughly disappointed. Devoid of intrigue, flimsily written, and a mess of wasted potential, maybe there’s a reason why this movie isn’t more well-known. I honestly can’t think of a single redeeming quality that warrant me recommending this movie to anyone. My appraisal for this antique is approximately $0.25.

Have you seen Antiquities?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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