Mini Film Review: 13 Minutes (dir. Lindsay Gossling)
13 Minutes is a peculiar thing. Lindsay Gossling’s debut as a feature director (she wrote an earlier title for television called The Translator) is a disaster flick of small narrative scale that nonetheless impresses in its moments of destruction and its aftermath.
Despite a clearly modest budget, Gossling has corralled some seriously impressive visual effects both (digital and practical) in its stand-out sequence. It’s in that passage as a massive tornado sweeps through a small Midwest town felling almost everything in its path that Gossling is best able to produce its pockets of drama and suspense as her large ensemble of characters meet a variety of fates. Likewise, I was impressed by how well the aftermath was shown, a mass of rubble and debris with potential danger waiting with each step of the rescue crews.
Where the film doesn’t work in its screenplay, which unfortunately attempts to address far too many ideas for its own good. Even the most ardent supporters of diverse stories on screen will likely chuckle at the long-list social archetypes. There is the single mum with the pregnant daughter who is debating an abortion. There is the closeted gay couple, the undocumented immigrant, the sexually harassed worker, the deaf child, the philandering husband, the bigot who learns to not be as much of a bigot, the homophobic Anne Heche... it really is quite something.
Unfortunately given the large cast, no one actor is really given an opportunity to create much more of a character than what is rather thinly put down on paper. Paz Vega as a struggling motel cleaner comes out best, but other familiar faces such as Thora Birch, Amy Smart, Peter Facinelli and Heche less so. If Gossling was trying to say something about diversity in the mid-west as I suspect she was, the cringey dialogue needed to be far less on the nose and her characters not as frustratingly silly.