Let’s start here: the production design in Tom Gustafson’s Glitter & Doom is impeccable, colorful, and memorable. Too often these days films lack an adventurous color palette. Here we have a welcome outlier. Production designer Geo Martínez breathes life into each frame. Next there’s the music. The film is a musical set to the indelible tunes of the Indigo Girls, the folk-rock duo (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, who both cameo) that became a household name in the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits like “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo.” Without question are music and lyrics the most essential piece of this problematically simple narrative. These artists are long overdue for legacy-laden admiration and celebration.

Now, for some criticism. We have Glitter (Alex Diaz) who wants to be a successful circus performer. We have Doom (Alan Cammish) who wants to be a successful musician. Both are struggling as they tilt at the windmills of their dreams. Their names reflect their general demeanors. Amongst a somewhat phantasmal aesthetic, our two leads find each other during an exciting summer and fall in love. Doom is scared of getting too close; Glitter is determined to escape his current situation, angling for a professional opportunity in Paris. Both have complicated relationships with their mothers: Missi Pyle and Ming-Na Wen (both stand out). Both have every reason to be together, yet are constantly inventing reasons not to be. It’s a frustrating back-and-forth given the razor-thin plot. If the emotions are there, motivations often feel manipulative.

Welcome dance numbers (choreographed by Franky Aviña) punctuate transitional sequences throughout. There is one particularly memorable set-piece set to “Memory” (and then “Fly Away”) at the beginning of the third act. It’s an ensemble piece (plus a lovely solo by Ming-Na Wen) with some well-connected movement. Unfortunately it too often it feels like the style is quite literally the substance. There is also the issue of the runtime: at nearly two hours, too little happens for too long within the full two hours. Gustafson is asking a lot of Diaz and Cammish, who lack the chemistry to make their courtship pop. There is a recurring campsite hideaway location where the two get to know each other, a good idea marred by a lack of spark between these lead performers.

There’s a welcome supporting turn by Lea DeLaria as a club owner that is woefully minimal. Ming-Na Wen and Missi Pyle are similarly underutilized. Which is a shame––there’s a lot of passion onscreen and the Indigo Girls deserve a film that personifies their songs to the fullest, deepest emotion. Glitter & Doom feels like a beautiful, energetic half-measure.

Glitter & Doom opens on Friday, March 8.

Grade: C

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