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To Be Alone (2017)

Driven by grief, caused by some devastating occurrences in his life, William (Timothy J. Cox) finds himself on a unique journey. That journey causes him to question his faith, as well as his own legitimacy as a good person. Furthermore, To Be Alone analyzes the human psyche as all that William posessesses, both mentally and emotionally, are pushed to their limits.


To Be Alone is driven almost entirely by sound; not by dialogue or visuals, but rather the eerie sounds of the piano, of doorbells, and of deafening telephones. The sounds that move Matthew Mahler’s To Be Alone forward play a significant role in viewers understanding the severity of what is occurring throughout. There is a juxtaposition that lies within this idea as the sounds are simple, even for someone who struggles to understand music (that someone is me), but it creates a level of understanding for viewers and becomes one of the primary reasons that To Be Alone exudes emotion so well.


From the opening moments of To Be Alone there is clearly something hiding in the background of the film, but what exactly that thing is eludes viewers for some time. Even as the film comes to a conclusion and I was given some answers regarding William’s current situation, I’m not entirely sure that I fully comprehend what had transpired throughout. This level of ambiguity and opaqueness may turn some viewers off to the project, but the reality is that Mahler gives you only what he wants to and keeps the rest of the information hidden. I love Mahler’s ability to explain only what he feels to be necessary and leave the rest up to the imagination of the viewer. While there may be a specific realization that Mahler wants viewers to come to, his prowess leaves the film somewhat open ended, and this makes for a fantastic finale.


Both Mahler and Cox appear to have a firm grip on reality and possess the ability to appeal to their viewers in more than one way as a result. The emotion present in the film through Mahler’s writing and sound/musical decisions, as well as Cox's nearly perfect acting, bring to light the realities that the world faces each and every day (maybe not in the same capacity, but in general). To Be Alone begs viewers to identify with it and tries desperately to entertain those viewers’ emotions from beginning to end; and I believe they achieve this goal.


I was floored by Cox’s ability to exude emotion without uttering even a single word throughout the course of To Be Alone. From beginning to end, along with the impeccable sound, Cox is tasked with bringing Mahler’s vision to life, and he’s incredibly successful. To Be Alone is emotionally trying as viewers see a singular man struggling with the ideas of isolation, but it never becomes so dreary that viewers feel debilitated. Rather than feeling downtrodden as a result of William’s journey we, the viewers, simply feel like part of the story. Sure, it’s a bit depressing, but it allows us to reflect on our own lives and find solace in the beautiful things that exist around us. To Be Alone is gorgeous in so many ways, Cox is brilliant as always, and Mahler has the potential to do great things in the future.


Written & Directed by Matthew Mahler.


Starring Timothy J. Cox, Maggie Kurth, & John Mahler.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐½/10


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