Laura Gets a Cat Review
The gentle sound of lapping waves and the face of a dark-haired woman, alone in the sea, staring down the lens of the camera wistfully, are the first sights and sounds of this charming indie flick. Who is she? Why is she there? What is she doing? That simple image forces these questions into your head, questions that lie at the heart of the film and the mind of the film's protagonist, Laura Snow (Dana Brooke). It’s unsurprising then how often Laura finds herself by water or the ocean; it’s as capricious as she is and it’s, therefore, more than a fitting way to open this reflective rom-com.
The second feature film from writer-director and star, Michael Ferrell, and co-producers Chris Prine and Devin Sanchez, Laura Gets a Cat is sure to draw attention to its stellar line-up of cast and crew. The film follows the life, both real and imaginary, of Laura, an unemployed aspiring novelist, whose pride at finishing her ominously yet fittingly titled book ‘The End of Things’ is only matched by her apprehension of putting it out there. There’s also the dull but caring boyfriend, the exciting and artistic bit on the side (played by Ferrell himself), and all the pressure of still figuring things out when everyone around her has the career of their dreams, marriage, and children to boot.
Hitting all the beats of a rom-com, Laura Gets a Cat is witty in its dialogue and cleverly comic throughout. At regular intervals you’re given insights into the vivid imagination of Laura, each breaking up the narrative in a consistently comedic manner; in one, Laura dreams that she’s been invited onto the podcast ‘Literature Today’ but soon finds herself bickering with the host who’s figured out he’s a figment of her imagination and storms off asking “Where does this lead, your subconscious?”, while in another, this time on the Mindful Chat show, she mock-modestly states “I don’t want to call them disciples but I think they found a teacher in me”.
It is, however, it’s conversation-heavy nature that gives the film a sense of familiarity and sincerity. With soundtrack being used sparingly, every conversation that Laura has is ridden with meaning; at times that meaning is simply mundane, “Don’t let me forget to do my unemployment later” she tells her boyfriend, the boring one (Josh Tyson), but reality is mundane and by refusing to omit it from this story, Laura Gets a Cat puts itself in with the likes of Lena Dunham’s Girls in terms of its recognisability and will certainly draw you in with the warmth created by this.
Brooke too brings warmth to a character who is arguably very cold; running from place to place, man to man, uncaring of who she leaves behind but adamant that they’ll be ready to welcome her back when she does indeed return, her flippancy is ultimately an unlikable feature. But there’s a sense of pride when she claims that’s her style - “many cities, many men” - and a hint of vulnerability underneath it, highlighted by so many self-deprecating jokes, that moves you to like, sympathise, and joke along with her. Similarly, the supporting cast and Ferrell especially, provide laughs and interesting interactions with Laura - but it’s her who takes the focus.
Through its cinematography and soundtrack, featuring the serene voice of Eli Trakhtenberg, Laura Gets a Cat asserts itself as a refreshing indie rom-com that feels as new as it does familiar. It’s a film that many people will relate to and a perfect reminder that life is messy but ultimately what you decide it will be.