We’re going to have to tread lightly with this one to avoid spoiling the experience, but trust me when I tell you, you’ve never seen anything quite like Colin West‘s linoleum.
Jim Gaffigan‘s Cameron has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but now he’s the host of a failing children’s science show. When a satellite suddenly falls from orbit and lands in Cameron’s backyard, he decides to use the pieces to build his own rocket ship. His wife of him (Rhea Seehorn) views his new hobby as a midlife crisis, but when surreal events start occurring around them, they’re challenged to reassess their original hopes and dreams, and also, their relationship.
No synopsis will do linoleum justice, but hopefully an interview with West, Gaffigan, and Seehorn will convey the heart and magic of it well enough to encourage you to seek it out as soon as it scores distribution. It took West a good deal of time to hone the incredibly ambitious idea, and he offered a brief tease of how his initial vision of him for the story compares to what we get in the final cut of the film:
“Really, at its core, it’s a love story between these two characters. It was brought about originally by sort of an examination of my grandfather and grandmother’s relationship. They met and started dating when they were 16 and were together until they passed away a few years ago. Looking at a couple’s lives, this sort of a love story over the course of a lifetime, yes, there’s these sort of sci-fi sprinkles and a bit of comedy here and there — obviously, Jim Gaffigan’s in it. [Laughs] — but again, at its core, it’s this love story and it evolved in that my grandparents passed away during the writing of the script, and so that moment sort of gave inspiration for a lot of how the script ended up changing throughout.”
West certainly has the attention to detail and strong vision a story like this needs, but there’s no way linoleum could have come together as well as it does without two leads with a clear understanding of the meaning behind the pieces of the story and how they all fit together. Here’s what Seehorn said when asked what burning question she had for West in terms of the film’s unique style and tone:
“We had many conversations about tone and those continued with all three of us and then separate conversations among two of us. Just constant talking about tone because it’s important in the film, but it is also malleable in some ways. Jim and I talked a lot about playing the realism of each of these, I call them ‘fragmented snapshots’ of a life, of a life together that you had to play the moment for what the moment was while understanding the magical realism element and the scope of how it’s fitting into the whole. So we had questions about tone. I also had questions about logic. I wanted to make sure that I understood so that I could bring to the piece whatever Colin needed to tell that story. And then the more I understood that he was more interested in us bringing three-dimensional characters to it and playing the love story than he was in us trying to be clever about the non-linear storytelling, the more excited I got to get on board with that.”
And that enthusiasm never dissipated. Gaffigan added:
“It is kind of corny, but we still enjoy talking about it. The same kind of energy we have now about this movie and these characters, it’s almost identical to our initial meeting and discussions about these characters and their relationships.”
Given the huge impression linoleum made on me out of SXSW, this longstanding enthusiasm Gaffigan and the team have for the material makes all the sense in the world. It’s a film that explores complex human truths in a highly cinematic and creative manner, delivering an experience that packs the power to burrow its way into your brain after one watch, but also have even more to offer on subsequent viewings.
Eager to hear more from West, Gaffigan, and Seehorn on linoleum? Check out our full SXSW 2022 interview in the video at the top of this article to hear all about why Gaffigan and Seehorn greatly appreciated each other’s approach to the work and so much more!
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