Always Shine is a mysterious, heart pounding, and physiological thriller. The film stars Mackenzie Davis (Anna) and Caitlin Fitzgerald (Beth) who are both actresses trying to make a name for themselves. They decide to leave LA and travel to Big Sur for a weekend vacation to spend time together and reconnect. Once they arrive in Big Sur their relationship begins to untangle. Their jealousy of each other becomes very obvious driving a wedge between the two and leading to dangerous encounters.
Anna is jealous of Beth and her success and Beth is jealous of Anna for her talent, believing she is more talented than herself. As the two arrive to Big Sur they decide to go out for drinks. While at the bar, they begin a conversation with Vic (Michael Lowry) who Anna is extremely attracted to and can be seen flirting with. Vic seems to not share the same feeling for Anna and is later seen speaking with Beth, asking her out, and getting her phone number. This sends Anna into a jealous rage. This is the beginning of a quick downfall of the friendship between the two women.
The music and editing of the film, set up for a scary and unhappy ending as you feel yourself waiting for the inevitable.
Following the film was a live discussion and audience Q&A with director, Sophia Takal hosted by Stephanie Zacharek.
The film was inspired by ideas from Sophia’s life. Growing up she felt as if there was a certain sense of how woman should and shouldn’t be, it felt as if they had to act and look a certain way. She found herself getting angry with other women for this. She decided if acting makes her feel so bad that she should focus on something else, like directing. The film’s name comes from the beauty pageant phrase, “Always Shine, Never Blend.”
Sophia explained how the film shows someone who by the end of the film begins to accept her truth and her true self. She discussed how anyone could be trapped by who they feel they should be.
Sophia also discussed how the cast and crew became so close. They lived together in Big Sur during filming. Every day did warm ups together. They also would eat dinner and play high – low, explaining the high and the low of their day. It was important to Sophia that they focus on the process and she wanted them to be creatively fulfilled.
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