Burning Bright


Salvation can come in many forms, but nothing is quite as rewarding as when its arrival comes via a combination self believe and perseverance. Providing a fitting finale to the 24th installment of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was Lightbulb, a quirky film with a heart as big as the Sonoran Desert. The story follows the fortunes of two friends -Matt (Dallas Roberts) is an inventor and Sam (Jeremy Reiner) is a fast-talking salesman and together they follow the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Only, up until now, it has mostly been downs.

Describing Matt as an inventor is a little like calling News of the World a newspaper. In catering to the novelty item market, he has given the jogging world a hat with a drop down television screen and created the ultimate watch for gamblers that not only offers the time, but also an ever-changing selection of lottery numbers. Matt's ideas come thick and fast, as do his prototypes, and the only thing lacking, well, aside from equity, is a market. But neither seems to stop these two budding industrialists.

Even when Matt and Sam have hit rock bottom their business has closed its doors and Matt's wife, Gina (played by Ayelet Zurer), has left him - the two manage to soldier on. And, when the big one does finally drop, everybody recognizes it and injects its cause with an unbridled passion and conviction. Lightbulb is a poetic sojourn through the heart and soul of America and a glowing testament to the spirit upon which it thrives. For, as ridiculous as their saving grace might be, it is the idea that people are buying into as much as the product itself.

Based on the real life story of the film's writer and producer, Mike Cram, and directed by Jeff Balsmeyer, who previously gave us the equally eccentric yet enchanting, Danny Deckchair, the film is set in Tucson, Arizona and the unconventional desert city is as much a character in itself as the cast they have assembled. With America currently in the midst of an economic meltdown, the realities that Matt and Sam are faced with are ones that many of us can relate to only too well. Lightbulb thus provides a timely reminder that it is our own resolve and ingenuity that will ultimately pull us through.

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