Writer/Director: David Fenster
Producer: Phil Lord
Cast: Paul Fenster, Dietmar Franusch, Christi Idavoy
Synopsis: A story centered on a young guy who ineptly runs the family construction business by day and begrudgingly acts as caretaker for his father by night.
A movie doesn’t need flashy effects, big stars, and morals to make it good. Yes, we go to the cinema to escape from our everyday slump, but it’s nice to watch a film crafted on a raw level, using wit instead of talking robots and explosions, someone going through real pain versus an actor pretending, and skipping the feel good ending where the protagonist goes through some life-changing experience blah, blah, blah. There are movies that are filled with sorrow yet leave us with a feeling of hope. This is what you will take away from PINCUS, a heartfelt story of selfishness stomped by the power of love. [Cue Huey Lewis and the News.]
Pincus (played by David Nordstrom) is a cynical hero with a soft heart for his father. He spends his days smoking weed, avoiding work, and doing yoga because he wants to sleep with his instructor. He’s allowed this glamorous lifestyle because he’s inherited his father’s very successful and well-respected construction business. But, “like father like son” doesn’t work in this family. Most people hire Pincus because Pops did a splendid job on their house, but all fire Pincus because he’s less than reliable and rarely ever shows up. It also doesn’t help that he lets his illegal German help sleep in the house they’re renovating. Pincus is a disgrace to everything his father has worked so hard for.
So why am I calling this misanthrope a hero? Despite winning many awards with his clients (Category: Deadbeat), he spends the rest of his time taking care of his father Paul (played by writer/director David Fenster’s real father) who is suffering from Parkinson’s. Pincus is reluctant about his caretaking skills because he’s lazy and doesn’t know how to handle it, and would rather put him in a nursing home than have to deal with it. But when Pincus is there taking care of him, he’s there taking care of him. At whatever hour, wherever he is (except when buying weed), he tends to his father’s every need. He shows a strange level of love and commitment to his father that’s incredibly admirable. This is what makes him a hero.
Actor David Nordstrom really sells the unlovable loser in Pincus, but the standout here is Paul. Paul is actually really suffering from Parkinson’s and it’s pretty incredible how calm he can be pretending to be a fictional character, frustrated by his aging and pain, when he’s actually frustrated by his aging and pain in real life. It took a lot of guts for filmmaker Fenster to cast his own ailing father to play an ailing father, but it’s pulled off remarkably. I have to hand it to Fenster–he’s got chutzpah.
PINCUS is visually inept and shot like a low-budget documentary with fast zooms, handheld shaky cam. It feels like the camera man is there with them and the cast is aware–but this actually works to Fenster’s advantage. It gives the film a more authentic appeal and the characters seem real. The budget for this was incredibly small and Fenster did a marvelous job telling the story not through fancy camera work, but through character interactions. PINCUS is a deeply moving film that you should not ignore.