God Particles is a series of shorts that chronicles the days leading up to the creation of the god particle and—quite possibly—the end of the world. With lives intertwined, each of the four parts focuses on a different character—revealing the true colors of these somewhat lost, but very present people.
Where the hell is media going anyway? What’s happening to television? Why aren’t studios making decent movies anymore and why are so-called “indies” becoming consistently lame, generic and boring? Is there anything good on the Internet? Supposedly that’s where all this shit is heading anyway, but lord knows I don’t find much that’s worth watching except the occasionally hilarious cat video. Whatever the ultimate answer might be, it’s a no-holds-barred world out there for storytellers. Anything goes, oftentimes leading to undesirable (or just downright bad) results. And that’s why I was so lucky to find God Particles, a new web series by Leland Montgomery.
On the surface, the premise of God Particles is quite simple: A group of interconnected 20 and 30 somethings lament their lackluster lives, only to find out that “The Large Hadron Collider” might send the world into a fiery apocalypse, thus killing any unaccomplished dreams in their menial existences. Rue spends her time working for a fitness group, only to return home at night to Doritos and old movies. Saul is an aging ex-heroin addict with a penchant for hustling. Allie is unhappily married to a man who we know to be gay. And Jill is a smug, pregnant woman who expects the world to bend to her every whim. But beneath the facade there’s so much more. Pain and anxiety about the living of life are explored through comedy and tragedy, witty and sophomoric behavior. Sounds simple, possibly even trite, but writer/director Leland Montgomery commands the subject matter with an easy bravado that sucks you in immediately.
Montgomery’s ideas are big and bold, not intimidated by the “smallness” of the Internet or the low expectations some filmmakers can have for web series. The scripts are, no doubt, tightly written with realistic dialogue that allows each character to produce his or her own voice. The camera is lyrical and meticulous without being pretentious or overwrought. Montgomery knows what he wants to capture and it shows in his ambitious direction. That ambition doesn’t stop at the visual. It carries over into the performances, anchored by Zoe Chao, Claire Kaplan, Jack Mikesell, et al. The director deftly constructs comedic scenes tinged with tragic neurosis. These characters are at a crux in their lives and every photographed moment gives you an insight into their lack of insight.
What makes God Particles great is its unapologetic “webseriesness”. Oftentimes, in the world of television and movies, things attempt to masquerade as other things. Short films try to be features. Television tries to be movies. Web series try to be short films. It’s a vicious cycle and one that ultimately prevents greatness. By trying to be something they’re not, these various works never know what they ARE and therefore fall short of connecting with an audience. God Particles knows exactly what it is. Because of that, it shines in the best possible ways.
Watch Part 1: “Rue” of God Particles: