Director: Stuart Gatt
Starring: Erin Moriarty, Jai Courtney, Dina Shihabi, and Ryan Corr
Boasting a solid cast, including The Boys’ Erin Moriarty and Suicide Squad’s Jai Courtney, Stuart Gatt’s debut Catching Dust delivers a story of toxic masculinity, distant dreams, and desperation all set against the backdrop of the Texan desert. way out in the Texan desert it turns out, as Courtney’s Clyde is on the run from criminals and lawmen alike, ensuring his wife Geena (Moriarty) lives a life of loneliness and despair as his controlling and domineering nature rule.
Things take a turn, however, when New York couple Amaya (Shihabi) and Andy (Corr) arrive thinking their destination is a lived-in, thriving resort when in reality, it’s a dust bowl that is home only to Geena and Clyde. The arrival of these new guests ensures Clyde’s unpredictable nature reaches boiling point as his obsessiveness and need for power is threatened, despite Amaya and Andy posing no real threat to him or his way of life. Geena, who is on the cusp of leaving Clyde, is relieved to see new blood and begins to dream of a better life where she can allow her repressed artistry and creativity to flow.
Despite the talent on display, Catching Dust is a mainly middling affair. It is thoughtfully paced given its shorter runtime, Gatt never really moving the story out of second gear, however, with the lack of any real urgency or tension, the film never really gets going. Seeing Clyde assert himself so despicably over Geena, and to a degree, Amaya and Andy, is a disturbing aspect of the film though I never felt as if I really got to know the characters well enough to connect with them. Moriarty’s Geena uses art to escape her reality and tries to build bridges with the new visitors, but even she isn’t entirely squeaky clean throughout which raises some interesting questions. In her performance, Moriarty is game for the task, but as with the rest of the cast, she isn’t given a whole lot to work with. Greater focus on one of the four characters, probably Geena, would have strengthened Catching Dust overall in my eyes.
Technically, the film is well constructed and presented. It looks sharp and the sprawling wilderness is captured to portray a grimy, solemn feel, which it does well. The juxtaposition also between the two couples is visualised effectively as well, I just wish they had gone further into that aspect narratively.
Whilst not a bad film, Catching Dust is a frustrating one. There was potential here to tell an arresting story, but sadly, we got an OK one instead.
CATCHING DUST had its world premiere at Tribeca Festival on June 11th, 2023.
June 11th 2023