Judge Tamika Adair didn't get lost in this Terminal.
"You know what I love about airports?"
You know that age-old adage that says opposites attract? Well, we see proof of that in an anonymous airport bar in Terminal where two polarizing forces crash into each other during a chance encounter. Jordan (Leah Loftin, Monster's Ball) is a young, beautiful, feisty blonde who has a penchant for initiating one-sided rambling sessions with random strangers, whether they like it or not. Malcolm (Andy English), on the other hand, is just your average Joe, with a serious, no-nonsense, almost uptight demeanor who's stuck in a dead-end relationship. Terminal examines what happens when two people from opposite sides of the spectrum meet and the true power of attraction that emerges.
On the surface, there's not a lot that is wrong with Terminal. Visually, it is a very beautiful film, with a strikingly bold color palette and a humble use of props that don't betray the film's limited budget. It's when you place it under a magnifying glass that the cracks begin to show. For one it's a talky drama, which becomes irritating at times thanks to Loftin. Yes, she is spunky and free-spirited but her tendency for theatrics is a bit too much for the film and my nerves. Her endless long-winded objections to Little House on the Prairie, her huge dislike for Michael Landon and the bridal pink roses Malcolm brought for his girlfriend seem so out of place and nonsensical. The only welcoming reprieve from her nonstop prattling is when Malcolm takes the stage and voices his life's own contentions, about his girlfriend and their relationship. He speaks with such a quiet intensity that it's almost earth-shattering. I completely identified with his struggles and loved his candid honesty.
Some other issues that plagued Terminal were the editing and sound problems, and a little thing called "crossing the line." "Crossing the line" is film lingo for establishing the line of sight between characters. It's a pretty easy rule; once you establish the light of sight between characters, one character must always face in the same direction of the other unless you cross the line visually. Terminal makes this mistake very early on, almost two and a half minutes into the film. It may not matter to some, but it can be a bit jarring for those who notice that something is wrong and they can't quite put their finger on it.
As for the editing, some of the shots are poorly put together in the beginning, such as the sequence involving the constant cutting back and forth to the slightly out of focus jittery shot of the newspaper. The first time is not bad, but after the next instance it's distracting. In addition, the flashbacks that are haphazardly throw in interfere with the flow of the story and create a visual and emotional disconnect within the drama. Terminal clearly broke the "show, don't tell" rule of filmmaking throughout the film. So, when they decide to throw in some random flashbacks just to tell one inconsequential part of the story that didn't require a visual, it obviously doesn't work. My only advice to director Fernando Beltran y Puga is to be consistent. If you insist on breaking rules, let them stay broken. Don't try to make up for it later.
The audio problems lie in the inconsistent volume levels. The way their voices drop from a normal level to levels that are sometimes just above a whisper. All in all, these problems don't help the suspension of disbelief.
It really is an intriguing film that examines the depth to which people go to dwell in unsatisfactory relationships. On a micro-budget, Terminal succeeds in many ways from the strong acting to the beautiful cinematography. It has it faults, but it triumphs as a solid first attempt for a budding visionary, which means the best is yet to come.
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