The Immortal Augustus Gladstone
Release Date: April 1st, 20th
Robyn Miller is best known to gamers for his role in bringing Myst to PC screens back in the early ’90s. It was a genre-defining game, and Miller has arguably been in its creative shadow ever since.
The Immortal Augustus Gladstone, his first feature, is an attempt to break out of that… but it might have made a better video game. Still, it does show Miller as more than just a game developer.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Vampire
In this mockumentary, Augustus Gladstone, played by Miller, is a vampire. He’s 150 years old, has hung out with Andy Warhol, went to Paris, and is now looking for a little meaning in his seemingly endless life. The film crew following him around, on the other hand, are reasonably a wee bit skeptical of Augustus’ claims.
Certainly there’s reason to doubt him: For one thing, he lives in an abandoned hotel, and his behavior is… eccentric, to say the least. Needless to say, there’s a lot more to this charming, off-kilter gentleman than meets the eye, and the film rapidly digs into an oddball character.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None
The main problem in The Immortal Augustus Gladstone is that Miller’s a talented actor and a so-so director. It tends to be bad news when the director, screenwriter, and lead performer are all the same person in a film, because they can’t bear to cut anything out, and that problem is here in spades. Even at ninety-five minutes, this movie drags to a surprising degree. Not helping matters is the mockumentary style, which unfortunately teeters on the verge of amateurish in some scenes; mockumentary is deceptively simple-looking, but it does need to be carefully planned and rehearsed, and that’s lacking, a bit, here.
But whenever it clicks, Miller’s hilarious. The scene where he finds his “descendant” and tries to convince the poor man that he’s talking to his great-great-grandfather is obviously where production began, and it’s an absolute corker of a scene, both utterly hilarious in how ridiculous it is and full of pathos as you see this man struggling to make a connection, any sort of connection.
But more often than not, it meanders. Miller has obviously carefully built an entire character, here. It shows in his performance, as I was genuinely surprised to realize, seventy minutes in, that it was Miller in the wig and makeup. But we didn’t need quite so much of it.
Not Immortal, But Certainly Interesting.
The Immortal Augustus Gladstone is ultimately a curiosity more than anything else, although it’ll probably find an audience among Miller’s fans, and there are a few scenes where you can see what he was striving for. But relatively weak cinematography and editing ultimately hold this movie back.
It must be said that if he’s willing to find another director, or if he’s willing to rehearse his crew a bit more, Miller should take another shot at acting. A little more discipline and focus, and this movie would have been what he wanted it to be.
by Dan Seitz on March 22, 2014 at 8:13 am