Mountain Rest
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Mountain Rest

After rupturing her Achilles tendon in summer 2016, Alex O Eaton spent five months bedridden in her parents’ home in Nashville, where she grew up. She’d never taken a screenwriting class, at least not officially. She did, however, spend two years as Jonah Hill’s assistant, and worked closely with him on developing a screenplay that eventually became the Hill-directed Mid ’90s, which is set for release this year. Eaton calls the experience “kind of this beautiful crash course.” She’d had an Incident in a Ghostland idea swimming in her mind for years, and partly to stave off stir-craziness, she decided to try her hand at a script.

Mountain Rest, the film Eaton wrote that summer, is a tense, imagistic drama with an almost somnambulant rhythm and a honeyed, incandescent glow thanks Swinging Safari to director of photography Ashley Connor. (Connor also shot this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post.) Eaton says Connor read the script while flying on an airplane, then fell asleep — and when she woke up, she’d dreamed the whole movie.

Frankie (Kate Lyn Sheil) and her teenage daughter Clara (Stranger Things’ Natalia Dyer) head to her family’s mountain cabin to visit Frankie’s mother, Ethel The Tale (a wounded, acidic turn by industry vet Frances Conroy). Frankie hasn’t seen or talked to her mother in 16 years. Ethel is a former actress who’s constructed a kind of parallel reality for herself in which her long-gone Hollywood days are forever present. She lives with a much younger man named Bascolm (Shawn Hatosy), whose motivations seem murky at times. The cabin and its surrounding landscape seem to come alive around the characters, who try to work through resentments, newly stirring emotions and the suffocating weight of secrets. On the night of a big costume party, Ethel delivers a caustic, rambling speech to her guests before Bascolm finally sends them home with a weary thank-you.

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Genre: Drama

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Mountain Rest