“It’s a woman’s birthright to be attractive and charming. In a sense, it is her duty…She is a bowl of flowers on the table of life.
The quote above is the first text we see in the opening of Always Shine. It is from Secrets of Poise, Personality and Model Beauty—written by a man.
Always Shine is about two best friends, actresses, who take a weekend to relax in Big Sur. But tensions soon rise between the two…leading to something much worse.
The first scene starts with an audition with Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald). A close up on Beth’s face reveals her acting skills, as she begins to cry during her lines. The men behind the camera ask her if she’s comfortable with a lot of nudity in the film. She replies that it is fine.
The next scene shows Anna (Mackenzie Davis). A close up on Anna reveals how angry she is, talking to a man about spark plugs. The shot is set up to seem like she is in an audition, but turns out she is not.
These first two separate scenes reveal how different these two actresses are and hints at where they are headed.
Throughout the film, tensions between the two rise and rise, slowly building. Sophia Takal does an amazing job of directing subtle tension. With the help of amazing actresses like Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald—it is even better.
The writing by Lawrence Michael Levine, who also stars in the film as Jesse, is well written. The writing creates a perfect balance of tension placed between two people who are supposed to be best friends, but seem distant. We can immediately sense anger, jealous, and secrecy, between Beth and Anna.
One of the best scenes in the film is when Beth and Anna are practicing lines for Beth’s new role. Anna explains to Beth that she needs to be sassy for the role, which she is not doing while practicing. Anna and Beth switch roles in the script. Anna delivers a very angry and real performance that gives me the chills. Beth is quiet, because she knows.
This scene foreshadows what is to come, and reveals a hidden truth. It gives Anna a chance to yell at Beth and to prove to her how great of an actress she really is.
If you are seeking a good thriller that builds suspension, watch Always Shine. It also has many metaphors and symbolism (which I love).
Always Shine grabs your attention from the start of the film and brings it to two specific places. Two different points of view—of two best friends, one already “big" in the industry, and one struggling to make it there.
Always Shine is now streaming and is available on DVD/BluRay.