Alex (Pinassi) is (in every sense of the phrase including occupation) a sad clown. Isolated, and most of the time drunk, he lives a lonely and mostly boring life which is odd since he resides in an overcrowded, energy-filled Brooklyn. Right away, we see that his only desire is to find someone who will be a loving companion. Someone to save him from his sadness. Yet he is disconnected from the city he lives in and the people who live in it. This is a powerful metaphor, being that the movie is set one month after 9/11, for how most New Yorkers felt at the time. Numb, confused and looking for something to help make some sense of it all.
One drunken night, Alex calls Mandie (Lewis), a young woman from England who he has been talking to online, and asks her to come stay with him. She accepts, and shows up with a youthful energy that strongly juxtaposes Alex’s disdain for life. Yet, despite
their differences (including a twenty year age gap), the two develop a strong bond in the first couple of weeks. Emotions and sexual tension build over time, and Alex and Mandie grow closer and more in tune with each other. The only thing that could destroy their happiness is something Alex is hiding, even from himself.
I knew nothing about “Transatlantic Coffee” going in, other than that Erik Peter Carlson directed it. He also was at the helm for one of my favorite films of this year (2015) in “The Toy Soldiers”. After seeing and loving that film, I decided I should check out his other work, and I am so glad I did!
“Transatlantic” is indescribably beautiful in the way it is shot and the almost too real emotion that is captured on screen. Pinassi and Lewis give masterful performances, but those performances are lifted to another level by the visual imagery provided by the cinematography of Dan Witrock and the incredible score. Music even plays a large part in the dialogue between Alex and Mandie. In one particularly memorable scene, Alex describes how music allows him to attach memory to places, people, and moments in his life.
It is a heavy movie, to be sure. There is a lot of emotion packed into Carlson’s script, and the actors deliver. It is not a film that will capture the mind of action film junkies or horror hounds. It is a beautiful, touching art house flick that relies on visuals and strong story telling. Much like the group of characters in Carlson’s “The Toy Soldiers”, Alex and Mandie’s story is not always a pleasant one. It is however a powerful one, and I loved it! I cannot wait to see Carlson’s next film (also starring Pinassi) “Wolf Mother”, which comes out later this year. After the two films of his that I have seen to this point, he is quickly becoming one of my new favorite directors.