Queerly Ever After #27: THE ACCOMPANIST (2019)

Queerly Ever After is a bi-monthly column where I take a look at LGBT+ films that gave their characters a romantic happily-ever-after. There will be spoilers.

The Accompanist is a romantic drama and magical mystery film. At least, I think. The movie, written, directed, produced, composed by, and starring Frederick Keeve, centers on Dr. Jason Holden (Keeve), a man in his 50s who, after a personal tragedy starts working as an accompanist at a local ballet school. There, he meets, and falls in love with 27-year-old dancer Brandon Wykowski (Ricky Palomino), who is in an abusive relationship with the hotheaded, temperamental, all-around unsympathetic, Adam (Aaron Cavette). After a particularly bad fight in which Adam beats up Brandon, Brandon seeks safety and comfort in Jason’s home, and arms.

From that very basic plot description, you’d think this movie is a pretty straight-forward drama about two troubled men who find love with each other. You would be wrong. I am now going to try to unpack the rest of the movie, so bear with me, it gets confusing. The movie continually has flashbacks to a bad car accident involving Jason, his ex-wife Karen (Jeanette Driver), and his two children, Isabella (Juliet Doherty) and Max (Christopher Pawl).

Queerly Ever After #27: THE ACCOMPANIST (2019)
source: Dark Star Pictures

I can only extrapolate that this accident is the personal tragedy that Jason experienced, and that the car crash led to his divorce and his daughter being paralyzed. Based on photographs in Isabella’s room, we learn that she used to be a ballerina, and while playing for the ballet class, Jason imagines her there. The constant flashing back to this accident only adds to the murkiness of the movie. Mystery can be great, but here it’s just too muddled and convoluted to make any sense.

Throw in Some Magic

And that brings me to the most confusing aspect of this movie. During a nighttime private rehearsal between Jason and Brandon, the earth begins to shake violently underneath them while Jason plays piano. This is a movie set in Los Angeles, so the automatic assumption would be earthquake, but when Brandon checks his phone and sees no news about an earthquake, he quickly jumps to the conclusion that Jason’s playing caused the quake. Yup, the movie now introduces to us the idea that Jason has magical powers with his piano playing. This plot development is not only perplexing, but completely out of left field. The fact that Brandon just automatically believes it is also confounding.

You might be wondering how Jason has these magical powers. He explains to Brandon that when he was 12 he had a near-death experience and then was magically healed. He then says something about musical spheres and orbs and the universe while we see some stock footage of the solar system. None of it really makes any sense. At first, the audience is led to believe that his powers only work when he plays the piano, but several other scenes contradict this and make it seem as if he can perform magic at will. What his powers actually do is another matter.

Queerly Ever After #27: THE ACCOMPANIST (2019)
source: Dark Star Pictures

From what I can gather, it has something to do with both healing, but also time travel. I’m not sure if Keeve had a concrete idea of how, why, and when Jason’s powers work and it shows. If the filmmaker doesn’t know, then the audience certainly doesn’t either.

Throw in a Third Act Twist

If everything else wasn’t already muddled enough, the movie throws a huge third-act twist at the audience that left me scratching my head. Don’t get me wrong, I’d been wondering if this twist was going to happen for a while by this point, but the way it was handled left much to be desired. I will not spoil this big twist, I’ll just say, this is the twist that would happen if Tommy Wiseau tried to create an homage to both M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

In Conclusion: The Accompanist

There is so much going on in this movie and none of the elements ever really come together to form a cohesive story. The wooden acting and strained dialogue do the film no favors. The clunky introduction of Jason’s magical powers take what is initially presented as a movie based in realism and completely derails it. Add to that, the film never really grounds or comes up with concrete rules for how his powers work and it makes for one very confusing movie.

The Accompanist comes out on demand June 2nd, 2020 in the US. It is distributed by Dark Star Pictures. For all other release info, see here.

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