Sticky Notes shares its premise with Chris Kelly’s Other People, but mood and characters make it a totally different experience. Like David in Kelly’s film, Athena (Leslie) pauses her attempt to make it in the creative world and returns home and care for an ailing parent. For the majority of the runtime Athena and her father Jack (a gruff Liotta) maintain a façade of acidic and brittle crankiness which keeps them at a distance from each other, and also forestalls audiences from becoming very emotionally attached.
The cantankerous father isn’t much of a stretch for Liotta, though he brings enough depth to convey how disarmed the usually flippant Jack is when the decline of his health can no longer be denied. An aggressive quirkiness – typified by the oblique notes Jack leaves lying around – removes the narrative away from recognisable reality. Ultimately, this is the key to Sticky Notes’ clever revelation. Apparently superfluous metatextual references and shots that previously seemed senseless fall into place in the coda, though the extent of visual explanation and exemplification approaches patronising overkill.
Sticky Notes is an adoring tribute to memory, childhood, beloved parents, and this is aptly reflected in the set design. Despite the film’s sardonic disguise there is a romantic subplot for Athena. Unfortunately this plays out at an unbalanced pace and parts of the developing relationship feel by-the-numbers and rushed. Sharp’s story also makes room for some great dance choreography, beautifully performed by Leslie, and the soundtrack choices are the ideal accompaniment throughout.
In its final minutes Sticky Notes reveals itself to be a pleasing cine-literate game of deceptive narrative structure, and the well-buried emotional kernel is laid bare. Deferring this so late, however, does damage the film’s power to engage.
CAST: Ray Liotta, Rose Leslie, Gina Rodriguez, Carmen Tonry
DIRECTOR: Amanda Sharp
WRITER: Amanda Sharp
SYNOPSIS: A story about love and loss. And maybe one day – love again.[Trailer forthcoming]