AFF Review: Finding Neighbors


When was the last time you talked to your next door neighbor? With all of the crazy reports out there in the news today, it seems that we as human beings have become more closed off to the world. I recall having a realization that, after almost one-and-a-half years of living in my apartment, I had never introduced myself to (or even seen) the person next door. I'm sure I looked rather foolish making an introduction after so long, but it seemed so unusual to live right next door to someone and not know anything about them -- even their name. Writer/director Ron Judkins explores this exact topic in his latest film, Finding Neighbors.

Sam (Michael O'Keefe) is a graphic novel artist, famous for works he did many years ago. It appears that he's hit a lull in his career and is struggling to create anything for his latest book (we gather this through the many voicemails from his publisher). Although he is happily married to his wife Mary (Catherine Dent), he still seems to be missing some sort of outside connection. Working from home doesn't help this problem, either. Sam feels as if things won't ever change -- until he meets his sassy gay next-door neighbor, Jeff (Blake Bashoff). Jeff knows about Sam and his work, but Sam knows nothing about Jeff. In learning about Jeff's life and struggles, Sam begins to put the pieces of his life back together.

The connection between these two is quiet, but very powerful. Both Sam and Jeff realize they can share their thoughts and goals with each other, more so than with their significant others. This causes tension with Mary though, as she believes Sam is having an affair rather than spending time with a new friend.

What really caught my attention in Finding Neighbors was how Judkins captures how friendships can affect our relationships. Sam is trying to strengthen his marriage, but his wife grows concerned at how differently he acts when he tries to improve. Is it possible to have both successful friendships and relationships, or does one have to suffer? I walked away from this movie considering how the people in my life affect my work as a writer, both positively and negatively. Judkins gives us a little more to work with, though -- his story focuses on the positive results, and how we should be open to meeting new people in our lives. Saying hello to that person next door might just open up a new connection for you; you never know until you try.