By Douglas McElheny
I recently watched the indie film The Frame by Jamin Winans who also directed the cult indie hit Ink from 2009. Having enjoyed Ink I was looking forward to seeing Winans’ new outing and on a certain level was satisfied in general. Though obviously an indie, the film was very well and professionally done with quality action scenes, special effects and acting that were satisfying to my vital. It also has a very nice musical score composed by the multi-talented Winans himself.
What is more notable about The Frame though is what it does for the mind. It’s what you might call an ‘idea’ movie in the same way a movie like The Matrix is. It’s supposed to make you think, make you wonder, and it does that very well. The movie poses such questions as: Are our lives scripted by forces bigger than ourselves? Is the world a chaos or is it a miracle?, Can Fate be changed? The story revolves around Alex, a cargo thief who owes a life debt to a crime cartel, and Sam, a paramedic with a dark past she’d like to forget. These two lost souls are brought together to change Alex’s fate, but the way their lives meet challenges their very ideas about reality. I don’t want to say more and spoil the surprise, but I will drop a hint and say that these two characters are literally worlds apart.
It also bears mentioning that a third major character is a demonic looking man who appears in multiple guises in the film and serves as the antagonist. The Light or God if you prefer is there too since it’s obvious our heroes are getting help, and we’re shown that there are lines that evil can’t cross. It’s not personified though. However, there is one character who’s the spokesman for the light, a dying man who’s been a positive presence in Alex’s life. He seems to be a man of the cloth, but that’s never stated specifically.
The movie leaves a lot of things open to interpretation, which I think works overall. However it may have gone a little too far in that regard, and left me with the feeling of a garbledness or lack of cohesion in the film. I also didn’t care for the fact that this movie utilized the tired old storyline of the guy getting the girl, and doesn’t point to anything deeper than the fleeting, narcissistic and conditional attachment referred to as romantic love. I could really digress here, but instead I’ll refer readers to a short story of mine where I examine the fallacy of this.
To sum things up I’ll say that while people like me who are hungry for something that you might call ‘spiritual’ will be on one level left unsatisfied, this movie as well as other ‘idea’ movies like The Matrix, Branded, Radio Free Albemuth and I, Origins conjure up a sense of mystery or wonder, hint at something bigger than ourselves. Films like this widen people’s horizons, and in that sense can serve a role in getting us to look at something other than our mundane existences. They are also I think necessary intermediate steps on the way towards things to come that will be truly groundbreaking. For all these reasons this film is worth seeing.
And what will those groundbreaking films be? What would a spiritual film actually be about? Well first of all that would depend on what you mean by the word spiritual. For me the word spiritual denotes the ultimate reality of our being. You can call it God, the Self, Oneness or whatever you like, but I believe (and for me it’s still just belief) our true purpose in this world is a shift in identity, a change in consciousness resulting in an actual lived experience of ourselves as That. The scenarios could be endless but for me a spiritual film would have this idea as its backdrop or at least point to it. To date I have not encountered such a film and if someone reading this post knows of such a film I would be most grateful if you would share the name in the comments.
Note: If you don’t have something like Amazon Prime where you can stream this film for free, I recommend you purchase it directly from Jamin Winans’ website and put all the money in his coffers instead of Apple’s or Amazon’s. I’m not sure Mr. Winan’s will ever produce a spiritual film according to my definition, but I’m interested to see what he’ll come up with next.