By RACHEL REEVES
Starring Alex Knapp, Olivia Luccardi and Nore Davis
Directed by Alex Knapp
Written by Alex Knapp
On its surface, GO/DON’T GO is a slow burn post-apocalyptic story that explores a newly desolate world and the inevitable feeling of isolation that follows. However, what it delivers is a beautifully intimate portrait of love, loss and the terrors the mind can inflict upon itself.
The feature debut from New York based Alex Knapp, the multi-faceted creator directs, writes and stars in the film as Adam. Following some undisclosed catastrophic event, Adam finds himself alone and isolated. Disconnected from the rest of the world, Adam’s knowledge of what transpired and his new position in the world remains a mystery throughout the film’s entire runtime. Unlike many stories that have to do with the end of the known world, GO/DON’T GO doesn’t seek to explain how or why the world fell apart. Rather, the film allows Adam’s personal story unfold while organically dropping bits and pieces of information through flashbacks. Through these telling memories we see what Adam was like before the world changed. Socially awkward, anxious and a bit quiet, Adam’s circle of friends is small. We see him attend a birthday gathering thrown by his only real friend, Kyle (Nore Davis). Overdressed in a suit jacket and tie we watch as Kyle sets him up with the bubbly, bright and beautiful K (Olivia Luccardi). Genuinely sweet, the chemistry between Knapp and Luccardi rings solid and believable. Interjected between scenes from Adam’s new reality, it becomes abundantly clear that Adam’s constant reminiscing and recollecting has become an overwhelming force in his life.
Although teetering on the cusp of being glacial in pace, Knapp offers more than enough to keep slow burn inclined audiences engaged. As the camera follows Adam, Knapp gives small, intimate glimpses inside his head. He leaves phone messages for himself. He writes letters that will never be sent. He clocks in at the mechanic’s shop and keeps detailed records of light bulb functionality for the entire small town. He gets wine drunk and dances in an empty black-light drenched cosmic bowling alley only to stop as abruptly as he started. Methodically marking locations, cars, maps and buildings with green check marks for ‘go’, red x’s for ‘don’t go’, Adam attempts to maintain a sense of purpose and normalcy in a world that gives both him and viewers none. As his options begin to dwindle and burn out like the light bulbs he so systematically cares for, so does his hope. Heartbreakingly endearing, it’s this relatable and fluid range of emotion, fear and grief that makes the film worthwhile.
Along with Knapp’s nuanced performance as Adam, a great deal of GO/DON’T GO’s effectiveness can be attributed to Frankie Turiano’s stunning cinematography. Gorgeous, sweeping overhead landscape shots convey the stark beauty that resides in Adam’s desolate surroundings. Smart and subtle uses of green, red and yellow lighting play off Adam’s method of record keeping while further supporting his inner struggle. While this technique could easily feel a bit cheesy or conspicuously intentioned, the strategic execution pulls it off. For these reasons and more, GO/DON’T GO never feels lacking for anything despite the film’s modest budget, cast and crew.
Despite GO/DON’T GO’s many strengths, it will inevitably fail to satisfy all. For some, the film’s extreme approach to slow burn filmmaking will prove too slow. For others, the lack of information surrounding humanity’s apparent extermination will disappoint. Plot, logic and practicality holes exist openly and are blatantly never addressed or explained. While these stylistic choices and factors will undoubtedly leave some viewers rather exasperated, for others these narrative decisions pay off. For those willing to invest the time and heart into Adam’s journey, these issues will wind up secondary to story.
At its very core, GO/DON’T GO is a love story. Though set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, Adam’s journey through the grief of losing his partner, his friends and the world as he knew it resonates to undeniably relatable strength. Pre-2020, the film could easily function as an emotional stand-in for anyone going through a difficult breakup. But now, as many people around the globe currently grapple with pandemic induced isolation, loneliness and frustration, Adam’s story transcends it’s cinematic realm with new, unprecedented fervor. Emotionally captivating and heartbreakingly beautiful, GO/DON’T GO is a distinctive post-apocalyptic journey well worth embarking on.
GO/DON’T GO is now available on VOD from Gravitas Ventures.