To its credit, Pranay Noel’s FOXHOLE CONVERSATIONS (2017) smartly avoids the meaning of its title until the last few minutes of the film. As such, it’s a smart illustration of the silence between brothers, the ways that we ignore what happens after war, and the problems of the pathetic divorcee genre that has been common over the past 20 years.
The majority of the film concerns Lauchlin, a middle-aged, divorced dad who doesn’t get to see his daughter much and is wasting away in a middle management cubicle. Lauchlin is sadder because it seems he could be doing much better. He’s smart, he’s interested in the world, and he’s writing himself a screenplay. His colleague even tells him that he should leave his boring corporate, pencil-pushing job because he wants to “do something” and probably could.
After his ex-wife refuses to let him come into his daughter’s birthday party, he and his brother Colin(who is unemployed and has recently come to live with him) get colossally wasted and pass the night on the couch, talking about their past, dreams, and failures. It’s the turn at the end–the one that makes the viewer rethink the entire film–that saves the movie’s narration. It’s neither a twist nor a plot point. Instead, it’s about what we never talk about. As a family, as a society, and as a culture.
While the acting is a bit hit or miss at times, the two main characters nonetheless manage to establish a kind of bro-ish charm. They let gross humor and childish sexual innuendos speak for them. It seems that they are having a good time, but their good time is also a fatal flaw. Brothers joke around, it seems, but can never say what’s going on. But we don’t want to see either because Hollywood film has trained us that the sidekick is never the main character. Except, possibly, he is to the sidekick himself.