Title: In Our Nature

Director: Brian Savelson

Starring: Zach Gilford (TV’s ‘Friday Night Lights’), Jena Malone (‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’), Gabrielle Union and John Slattery (TV’s ‘Mad Men’)

Filming a low-budget, independent film with a first-time feature writer and director can be taunting for many actors, but filmmaker Brian Savelson effortlessly found the perfect cast to create a realistic, emotional, character-driven movie with his new drama, ‘In Our Nature.’ With a talented quartet of well-known actors, including Jena Malone, Gabrielle Union, John Slattery and Zack Gilford, Savelson rightfully forgoed featuring any other characters and set the story in an isolated home to truly focus on the tension and strained relationships between the four. Between an obviously strained father and son bond, which drives the story’s central conflict forward, to the subtle differences in opinion of all four characters that affect the two romantic relationships, ‘In Our Nature’ genuinely looks at the petty differences that can unnecessarily drive people apart.

‘In Our Nature’ follows Brooklynite Seth (played by Gilford) as his brings his girlfriend of two years, Andie (portrayed by Malone), to his family’s weekend house in upstate New York for a romantic getaway. While the two think they’ll have the house to themselves for the weekend, they’re unexpectedly joined by his estranged father, Gil (played by Slattery), and his much-younger new girlfriend, Vicky (portrayed by Union).

When Gil and Vicky first arrive, he and Seth are hesitant to spend time together again. But Vicky and Andie, who Gil didn’t know was dating his son, push the two men to share the house for the first time since the summer vacations of Seth’s childhood. The unexpected family reunion is filled with new and old tensions, as Seth and Gil would rather start new families than deal with their lingering problems and separation from each other. But spending time together makes them realize the bonds of family are stronger than expected.

‘In Our Nature’ is an emotional, character-focused drama that’s driven by the four actors’ realistic portrayals of overcoming pain, and learning to trust each other again. Savelson truly created an isolated house in the middle of the woods that held both welcoming and painful memories for Seth and Gil, that also brought the actors out of their comfort zone. Each actor was well-cast in roles they’ve never explored in previous films, and all responded to the distinct moments of their characters pondering if they should, and could, maintain their difficult relationships with each other.

The father and son bond, and all four characters’ feelings of jealousy and embarrassment around each other, were amplified by the couples’ decision to uphold appearances and stay with each other the entire weekend. From Andie’s resentment and humiliation that Seth never mentioned her to his father, to Seth’s wariness that Gil is starting a new family with Vicky, to the older couple being unsure how to trust each other to move forward with their romane, the relationships all feature relatable elements that all audiences can understand. By carefully easing into the complexities of the various relationships between the four characters, they truly ponder if it’s worth saving their bonds, and reflect on the evolution of their own personalities.

The subtle, realistic production design of the house, created by Russell Barnes, combined with the diverse and unique costumes, designed by Anney Perrine, truly reflected the strained relationship between Seth and Gil, as well as the unique personalities of the characters. Gil continuously puts money into the home, including installing a $2,000 television, antique furniture and expensive silverware, in order to keep it well-maintained. However, the fact that the family never spends time there together anymore, and Seth has little desire to keep it up to his father’s standards, shows the two have differing opinions on keeping up appearances and rekindling their relationship.

The costumes designed by Perrine also accurately showcase the character’s diverse personalities and outlook on life. From Andie’s Bohemian-style dresses, which reflect her vegan lifestyle and caring nature, to Seth’s casual T-shirts, showing his carefree musician tendencies, the wardrobe for the younger characters reflects their desire to create their own identities outside of their families, and embrace life with each other. Meanwhile, Gil and Vicky, who work as a lawyer and psychiatrist, dress more conservatively, wearing business-casual clothing even while on a weekend getaway with each other. They have both experienced the destruction of their families as adults, and often don’t allow their emotions to drive their decisions as much as Seth and Andie do.

‘In Our Nature’ is an emotional, realistic look into the strained family and romantic relationships between the four main characters, who must reevaluate their bonds and figure out how to fix their connections after they unexpectedly come together for the weekend. Seth and Gil have become so distant that they feel it’s easier just to start new families than rebuild the one they had. They don’t realize how important they truly are to each other until their girlfriends, who both come from their own broken families, force them to truly appreciate each other again. The relatable, complex characteristics of the father-son bond between Seth and Gil, as well as their subtly strained respective relationships with Andie and Vicky, prove that everyone copes with feelings of neglect, jealousy and resentment, and even the most seemingly coincidental occurrences can help people mend their relationships.

Technical: B+

Acting: B+

Story: B

Overall: B+

Written by: Karen Benardello

In Our Nature (2012) on IMDb

In Our Nature Movie Review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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