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The Builder2010

  • 3.1
Following an Irish immigrant carpenter from coastal Queens to the Catskills and beyond, THE BUILDER is an American existential portrait that explores the gulf between the idea of a thing and the thing itself. Having set off to the New York countryside to construct a reproduction of the earliest of American cape houses, the protagonist finds himself overcome by an inexplicable fatigue. Debts and expectations mount alongside the crudest and most naive of deceptions, that of both self and of family. As the chasm grows the Builder finds himself confronted by the unnerving ambivalence of the world around him.

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1 member likes this review

Since I invariably use dead reckoning, rather than read the review beforehand, I prefer to rely upon my cinematic instincts, not unlike skipping the preface of a long anticipated novel. Unfortunately, it is often the case that I feel stung by the dagger of irony when the one word I use to describe the film, “existential”, pops right up, usually in the first sentence of the review. THE BUILDER or ZEN AND THE ART OF BUILDING THE CLASSIC AMERICAN CAPE HOUSE is the existential, noble pursuit of timeless perfection as an Irish expatriate carpenter finds consolation in building a bungalow for one; a loner who would rather watch BIRTH OF A NATION than talk on a cell phone; a dreamer whose dreams for the future hold no time or room for anyone or anything else but a meditative existence inside a work of art crafted inside his lost mind. While watching THE BUILDER I could not help but be reminded of THE CRACK-UP, the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sudden descent at age 39 from a life of success and glamour to one of emptiness and despair and his determined recovery.

As the film wound down to its final minutes, I kept hoping, “Please don’t let it end in Richmond!” I forgot why he even ended up there in the first place; but if there was any hope at all for the future, I knew he had to get back on the interstate. The only time I passed through Richmond was five years ago, heading North on I-85 on my way back to New York from Savannah. It was Sunday, late afternoon and I was reminded of one of those post-apocalyptic episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. No sign of life anywhere. I was really thirsty for a pint and low and behold! On East Main stood The Capital Ale House Downtown where I lifted a Newcastle to FSF, another to Edmund Wilson, a third to Dos Passos, etc. Et al. But I suppose it might be worth the trip to find that pothole; after all -- it's only been 5 years.

Member Reviews (7)

did not understand..

1 member likes this review

dissapointing

1 member likes this review

no

1 member likes this review

Plot was not clear and evolved too slowly

1 member likes this review

Since I invariably use dead reckoning, rather than read the review beforehand, I prefer to rely upon my cinematic instincts, not unlike skipping the preface of a long anticipated novel. Unfortunately, it is often the case that I feel stung by the dagger of irony when the one word I use to describe the film, “existential”, pops right up, usually in the first sentence of the review. THE BUILDER or ZEN AND THE ART OF BUILDING THE CLASSIC AMERICAN CAPE HOUSE is the existential, noble pursuit of timeless perfection as an Irish expatriate carpenter finds consolation in building a bungalow for one; a loner who would rather watch BIRTH OF A NATION than talk on a cell phone; a dreamer whose dreams for the future hold no time or room for anyone or anything else but a meditative existence inside a work of art crafted inside his lost mind. While watching THE BUILDER I could not help but be reminded of THE CRACK-UP, the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sudden descent at age 39 from a life of success and glamour to one of emptiness and despair and his determined recovery.

As the film wound down to its final minutes, I kept hoping, “Please don’t let it end in Richmond!” I forgot why he even ended up there in the first place; but if there was any hope at all for the future, I knew he had to get back on the interstate. The only time I passed through Richmond was five years ago, heading North on I-85 on my way back to New York from Savannah. It was Sunday, late afternoon and I was reminded of one of those post-apocalyptic episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. No sign of life anywhere. I was really thirsty for a pint and low and behold! On East Main stood The Capital Ale House Downtown where I lifted a Newcastle to FSF, another to Edmund Wilson, a third to Dos Passos, etc. Et al. But I suppose it might be worth the trip to find that pothole; after all -- it's only been 5 years.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

A plodding often-times unrelated sequence of images supposedly attempting to capture the depressed state of an individual but mostly a visualization of minutiae whether it be chipping away at wooden beams, making coffee, brushing one's teeth, washing dishes, or muttering some sort of unintelligible conversation over a beer or on a cell phone. The viewer is somehow expected to connect the dots from building a house in upstate New York to suddenly taking a train to Richmond, VA to be a dishwasher. Not any kind of cogent approach to storytelling cinematically or otherwise.

243496.small
top reviewer

Colm O'Leary has an interesting presence, but Alverson's film refuses to give the viewer much direct information about this builder. As this artfully filmed movie progresses the information slowly emerges.

The inner-turmoil and intensifying depression within his head is never articulated, but Colm O'Leary's movements and actions begin to form a reason for lethargy.

"The Builder" is not an easy-access narrative film, but Alverson has carefully constructed a film that haunts long after the credits roll. "The Builder" sneaks up on you.