The frustrations and disappointments of a pair of squabbling adult siblings form the heart of The Color Wheel, a sort-of road comedy.
JR (Carlen Altman), a college drop-out, forces her equally floundering brother Colin (Alex Ross Perry) into a fraught road trip to collect her belongings after a love affair goes sour. Along the way, the pair bicker, grudgingly support one another and eventually come to a rather unexpected resolution.
Color Wheel was written by Altman and Perry, and zings with barbed dialogue that feels uncomfortably true. Siblings, especially unhappy and competitive ones, know just where to stick the knife, and with the minimum amount of effort. A few circumstances stretch credulity, such as an excessively Christian motel added for comic effect. But the film's truest laughs are Altman and Perry's perfectly plausible observations.
The film is frequently fearless — from its edgy narrative to its old-school execution. Perry, who also directs, shot on 16 mm for some of the grainiest black-and-white I've seen in years. But his confidence in the medium helps make Color Wheel compelling, and fans of power-packed micro-scale cinema will thrill to its penultimate scene: a 9-minute take in close-up during which JR and Colin finally let their guard down.