Evergreen is a stunning debut beautifully helmed by first time feature film director Paul Goodman. The perfect quarantine escape, I found myself completely immersed in this love story set against the backdrop of the rugged, wildly beautiful and obscenely romantic Pacific Coast Highway. It’s fitting terrain for the protagonists, who are traversing the sublimely precarious landscape of young adulthood. Their conversations effortlessly wander from playful hypothetical alien encounters to whimsical French linguistic theorizing, to guileless contemplations on matters of the heart. Their dialogue (written by the phenomenal Mr. Goodman, as well!) is remarkably genuine. You’re immediately transported back into that moment when you’re falling for someone, and you stay up all night talking to them, night after night. You could talk to them forever, about nothing, and about everything.
Hannah Leigh is effervescent as Sam, instantly charming and alluring. Unlike Ben, she’s not afraid to lean into the angst of our 20s, wearing her tragic past and self pronounced skepticism regarding love and marriage as armor. Leigh poignantly conveys the exquisite heartache attached to the extraordinary heights of each peak and the abysmal depths of each valley, the uncomfortable intensity of feelings that I cannot be alone in personally attaching to that high school to mid 20s stage of human existence. Scott Takeda is delightful as Ben, providing us with flawless impressions (the Attenborough inspired take, in particular, literally made me cry from laughter) and an enduring sense of unabashed, beguiling idealism. Ephemeral, stolen glances and the subtle, occasional hesitation in his otherwise cheerful bantering allude to some element of unspoken tragedy driving the sincerity of his idealism, his joy for life, adventure and human connection. I would run away with him, too.