Quite A Conundrum (2012)

To be perfectly honest, I came to review this movie knowing next to nothing about it or anyone involved with it. I am unfamiliar with writer/director Thomas L. Phillips’ previous work, and so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. This being the case, I kept my research to an absolute minimum so as to get a true first impression of the movie, something that happens altogether too rarely these days.

It all starts off fairly poorly, with some exposition involving an overweight gentleman with an eye patch and some bog standard character development. I will be honest, for the first twenty minutes or so, I hated Quite A Conundrum. The main female roles, Mimi (Ramos) and Tabitha (Cline) are just so unlikeable, even down to the more-clever-than-it-thinks-it-is lines that they spew forth with admirable, if misplaced gusto. The soundtrack is just terrible, featuring a whole bunch of god-awfully cheesy R&B, and there is a reference to a ten year old Nelly song that had me cringing.

The writing is very reminiscent of Kevin Smith, and that is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it looks very clever and witty on paper, and that can sometimes transfer into on-screen hilarity, however the viewer is also forced to listen to the nagging little voice inside their head that says “people just don’t talk like that, this is ridiculous.” It is especially grating with more than two characters, because it feels like one character having a conversation with multiple manifestations of the same writer’s split personality.

Then, around half an hour in, everything changes, and I completely understood that the previous unlikeability of every character was entirely intentional, and for that, I have to applaud the writing and direction, because even the way that some parts were shot had me wanting to brain them.

From this point on, Quite A Conundrum gets really twisty and turny, and I don’t want to spoil it, so go and see it for yourself. What I will say is that it gets incredibly dark, but by contrast, it also gets genuinely witty, and chemistry between characters that was previously not there really shines through. There is a particular exchange involving a drum kit that reminded me of some of the sharpest parts of Clerks.

Once the thriller part kicks in, it is actually really well done, with a continuing sense of tension being built up, and a real sense that anything could happen at any given moment. If I say any more I’m going to ruin it, so I will wrap up by saying that if you don’t get into Quite A Conundrum straight away, persevere and you will be richly rewarded with, while it is not without it’s faults, a gem of an indie thriller.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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