Review: Bryan Wizemann’s ‘Think of Me’

Still Image from Think of Me. Photo by Bryan Hainer
Image from Think of Me. Photo by Bryan Hainer

Sultry sadness is a single mom living off the Vegas strip, struggling to raise her young daughter in Bryan Wizemann’s Think of Me. The film helped kick off Rooftop Films’ opening weekend on the sprawling roof of New Design High School Saturday, the lurid lights of Las Vegas playing beautifully against the skyline of the Lower East Side.

The city within a city feel of the surroundings made me more acutely aware of the urban struggle to provide for family. Poignant and painful, Wizemann’s love letter to Las Vegas stars Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) as single mother Angela, whose frustration—at her absentee ex-husband, string of thankless jobs, rickety old car—explodes in volleys of ‘fucks,’ endless cigarettes and meaningless one night stands. All this is witnessed by her 8 year-old daughter, Sunny, whose ragamuffin joy bursts through in brief moments that envelope mother and daughter in something close to comfort.

Ambrose plays Angela with defiant dignity and Audrey Scott gives a powerful performance as her daughter. Also starring Dylan Baker (Happiness) and Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist) as interlopers whose supposedly good intentions push the limits of what we’ll do for love and money, Wizemann’s film becomes both modern tragedy and triumph.

Rooftop Films at Open Road Rooftop. Photo by Royal Young.

Among the graffiti murals glowing in the light of the silver screen, Wizemann joined the audience for a brief Q&A after the screening, admitting his own upbringing was not dissimilar to the world he recorded on film. Like my own childhood on the Lower East Side of the early ‘90s when the streets were rough and children grew up faster, Wizemann’s youth in Las Vegas was spent in the seedy streets off the strip, away from flashy casinos and tourist money.

Wizemann spoke of being exposed to struggle, sex and drugs at a young age. And though much of this is shown in Think of Me, the film becomes more about family, and the bonds that hold us together even if they are forged over cheap breakfast specials at a smoky casino. “I’m kind of amazed at how many personal details sink into every scene,” Wizemann said. “There’s something to be said for facing a past head on and dealing with it.”

Royal Young is a New York-based writer who contributes literary coverage to Interview Magazine and the new web site Holy Diver. Young recently completed “Fame Shark,” his memoir.  After six years living in exile (in Brooklyn), this Lower East Side native is back in his natural habitat, rediscovering the old neighborhood.