Thin plot, dialogue sink indie flic ‘Asthma’

It must be possible to make a movie in which the hero is a trust-fund baby/heroin addict/car thief and still maintain some rooting interest in the story’s outcome. “Asthma” is not that movie.

Maybe that’s because Gus (Benedict Samuel) is an insufferable poser, but most likely it’s because writer-director Jake Hoffman hasn’t provided enough narrative juice to justify hanging around this guy for 90 minutes.

Gus is conflicted, but he’s cool — we know this because of the way he stylishly flicks his cigarette butts on the ground. (Someday I’d like to see a hip indie movie about the guy who has to clean that up.) As the movie opens, Gus is attempting suicide by hanging.

He fails, but this kicks off a stint of roving — Gus steals a car, visits his drug dealer, and picks up a Goth-eyed young woman he met at a club once.

This is Ruby (Krysten Ritter), who could use a ride to Connecticut. She’s a tattoo artist, because how could she not be?

Ruby is going to the home of a minor celebrity (funny Dov Tiefenbach) with whom she might be involved. Various hangers-on, including an amusingly self-righteous guru (Goran Visnjic), are spending a weekend at the place. This setting at least provides the movie a little satirical material to work with.

It’s hard to get behind Samuel and Ritter (the star of the Marvel TV series “Jessica Jones”) and their hesitant romance, but this has more to do with the flimsy dialogue than the actors. Hoffman, the son of Dustin, hasn’t given them enough original substance to play with.

Appearing in cameos are Rosanna Arquette, as Gus’s mother, and Nick Nolte, as the voice of a wolf that visits Gus in low moments. Which is one of the movie’s better ideas.

Watching the way Gus bounced back after his suicide attempt (and they way he is racked by coughing fits after), I became convinced that Hoffman was working a modern variation on the classic Ambrose Bierce short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”

Which also begins with a hanging, but if you haven’t read it (or seen the “Twilight Zone” episode made from it), I won’t spoil it for you. It turns out — non-spoiler spoiler alert — ”Asthma” isn’t that after all. What it is, is a missed chance with a few amusing moments.

“Asthma” (1 star)

A heroin addict/car thief (Benedict Samuel) picks up an acquaintance (Krysten Ritter) on the way to a Connecticut weekend. Jake Hoffman’s flimsy indie doesn’t give the players enough to work with, despite some amusing moments.

Rating: Not rated; probably R for language

Showing: Sundance Cinemas Seattle

Talk to us

More in Life

Darlene Love, Steven Van Zandt and Paul Shaffer  performed in concert at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park on Sept. 12, 2015.
Pandemic’s not stopping Christmas Queen Darlene Love

The singer best known for “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” will perform her annual holiday concert online this year.

A gardener’s to-do list for winterizing the yard — Part 2

Try to accomplish most of these chores, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get them all done.

Caleb Sanders and Ashley Dougherty help decorate for the Trees of Christmas event at the Everett Bible Baptist Church. (Maria Lara)
Church keeps Christmas tradition alive with drive-thru event

Everett Bible Baptist Church hosts Trees of Christmas, with music, narration and special treats for the family.

Mexican sedum is an excellent groundcover plant, forming a dense carpet of glossy chartreuse leaves. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Sedum kimnachii aka Mexican sedum

An excellent groundcover plant, this variety forms a flat, dense carpet of glossy chartreuse leaves.

Make holidays brighter with energy saving tips and gifts

Snohomish County PUD shares five smart ways to find joy in the season that use less electricity.

John Spadam owner, at Spada Farmhouse Brewery in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Spada ready to show off new bar and restaurant in Snohomish

During the pandemic, the Spada family has been busy renovating an old building on First Street.

Precept Wine, the largest privately-owned wine company in Washington, recruited Seattle native Sarah Cabot to take over its pinot noir production in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 2014. (Precept Wine)
Six examples of award-winning pinot noir in the Northwest

The Willamette Valley of Oregon has a reputation for the red wine, but there are other success stories in the area.

To deposit a coin in the Bonzo bank, you had to push his tummy. His tongue would come out of his mouth to deposit the coin inside. Many similar banks were made picturing other comic characters. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Mechanical bank of the first famous Bonzo sells for $1,800

The dog decorating the front of the tin bank was a comic cartoon star from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Design elements of the M235i Gran Coupe include angled headlights, four-eyed halo daytime running lights, and BMW’s traditional kidney grille. (Manufacturer photo)
BMW’s compact 2 Series Gran Coupe is all new to the 2020 lineup

A turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, and 8-speed automatic transmission are standard on both versions.

Most Read