“Buster’s Mal Heart” Is A Beautiful, Trippy Sophomore Effort From Sarah Adina Smith



Actors: , ,
Genre: , , ,
Reviewed By:




Total Score

User Rating
no ratings yet


Posted May 26, 2017 by

Full Article


In 2014, Sarah Adina Smith made a splash in the indie world with her directorial debut “The Midnight Swim”. It took just that one film for Smith to showcase her talent, in both writing and directing, and announce that there was a new, powerful, female voice in independent film. The dreamlike, metaphysical tone that made “Swim” such a treat for cinephiles is even more present in her new film “Buster’s Mal Heart”. Not suffering a sophomore slump, Smith once again brings us a movie with heady concepts, some powerful questions about what it is to be human, and some truly wonderful performances. Also like “Swim”, “Buster’s Mal Heart” can result in a variety of interpretations for the viewer making it almost necessary to view it multiple times.

Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) portrays both Jonas and Buster. The two men are polar opposites at first glance. Jonas is married to his dutiful wife Marty (the uber-talented Kate Lyn Sheil), with whom he has a daughter (Sukha Belle Potter). He works as a night concierge at an old hotel, and dreams of a life where he has his own land and time to spend with his loved ones. Buster is a wandering mountain man. Mangy and wild looking, Buster survives by breaking into lavish vacation homes and staying as an uninvited guest until the owners return or the police scare him off. Malek also plays a third incarnation of his character who is lost at sea, and tossing bottled letters overboard, while waiting for his inevitable (and deeply desired) demise.

Much like Smith’s previous work, “Buster’s Mal Heart” is difficult to delve into, without either giving too much away or wrongly influencing how a potential viewer will digest what they are seeing. It is a complex, mind-bending film that blends dark humor with some pretty heavy concepts. I think, after her first two films, it is safe to say Sarah Adina Smith is in the same directorial family as David Lynch and Shane Carruth. High praise, I know, but watch her two films and try to tell me otherwise. I should also point out that the movie’s ethereal quality was also aided by the incredible cinematography by Shaheen Seth.

As Smith is the films artistic, creative force Malek is her paintbrush. His dual performance is something magnificent to watch. He is given a role with both depth, and raw emotion and he eats it up. He also has wonderful on screen chemistry with both Sheil and DJ Qualls , who plays a mysterious drifter who’s presence changes everything for Jonas. Malek also supplies plenty of the films humor, as Buster. His strange, idiosyncratic behavior provides a handful of laughs that give the viewer a respite from the weight of the rest of the film.

I absolutely loved “Buster’s Mal Heart”, and consider it one of the best films of the year so far. I am always frustrated when I bring up “The Midnight Swim”, and people have no clue what I am talking about, or who Sarah Adina Smith is. Something tells me that, that will soon change though as her new film brings her a well-deserved increase in notoriety. Anyone who is a fan of movies that are smart, intriguing, and profound should seek out her work. “The Midnight Swim” is available on Netflix streaming and other VOD platforms, and “Buster’s Mal Heart” is currently on iTunes and Amazon video.




Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response