“Pain as Beauty,” a review of “Song of Back and Neck” by Nathan H. Box
Recommendation: 3/5 Stars, STREAM
Director: Paul Lieberstein, Writer: Paul Lieberstein, Starring: Sam Anderson, Rajeev Chibber, Chelsea Cook
Plot: “Fred is a nice guy who is not taken seriously by anyone. When a beautiful client comes in looking for a divorce lawyer, she and Fred hit it off. She suggests he see an acupuncturist, who discovers that Fred has a unique talent.” -IMDB
Review: For my fifth film of the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival, I set my sights on a comedy directed, written, and starring one of my favorite actors in “The Office,” Paul Lieberstein who played Toby. By doing so, I was treated to one of the most peculiar openings in the history of cinema as Paul who is playing Fred, lurches across the floor and through his morning routine in excruciating pain. “Song of Back and Neck” begins with hilarity and doesn’t let up even in its more dramatic moments.
Through his work as a paralegal at a law firm, Fred meets a woman going through a divorce. She refers him to an acupuncturist to help ease his back pain. In return, he agrees to help her sort through documents that might help her win her case. While at the acupuncturist, we discover Fred has an uncontrollable talent. With pins in his back, a beautiful and haunting hum begins to fill the room. Pain becomes beauty. Very quickly, this translates into something to exploit. It leads to gigs, performances, and even a trip to Coachella, but this is a side plot. The main story is focused on Fred and the kindred spirit he met back at the law firm. Through her, he discovers someone in the same boat and a budding relationship.
Before Fred can get too comfortable though, the husband of his new love interest comes back into the picture. The way in which this happens is hilarious and unexpected. I won’t say too much, but Fred’s pain always has a way of showing up at the most inopportune times. It is this sequence of events that delivers us to the last chapter of the story.
It is here where you will be left wondering, where is the change? Where is the growth? Will we ever see a Fred who is braver, stronger, and more resilient? Will we ever see him become himself? The answers to these questions are powerful and were enthralling to watch. The final 15-minutes of this film is a thing of cinematic beauty giving you an unexpected ending, but the one we all deserved. For that, I recommend putting your back firmly against a comfortable chair and streaming this one as soon as you can.
Be good to each other,
I've never asked readers for financial support before. I am committed to keeping content on this site free and open to all. For me, this means no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what I create, please consider making a contribution on Patreon.