Runtime: 93 minutes
Writer/Director: Alejandro Montoya Marin
Starring: Katy Erin, Michael Lovato, Micah McNeil
By Morgan Roberts
New Year’s tends to be the time we individually and collectively make resolutions for the start of a new year. There are trepidations about what lies ahead as we attempt to shake the trials and tribulations of the previous year. But, how do we address our problems as the New Year is thought to bring the end of the world? In Alejandro Montoya Marin’s “Millennium Bugs,” we explore just that.
Taking place to the lead up of the year 2000, when Y2K dominates the news, best friends Kelly (Katy Erin) and Miguel (Michael Lovato) are at a crossroads. Kelly, reeling from a breakup and bereaving her parents, is out of cash and out of luck. Her self-destructive behaviors have caught up to her, and now, she’s backed into a corner. Miguel, a struggling comedian still lives with his parents and works a deadend job. With his future hanging in the balance of being accepted into a comedy troupe in Los Angeles, Miguel is desperate for his Hail Mary to work. As the friends struggle to face reality, they take comfort in one another.
This film works so well because of the chemistry between Erin and Lovato. There’s an ease and mutual understanding that you find with this pair. It comes naturally and they feel like life-long friends. Without a strong central pair of actors, it would be hard to appreciate the rest of the film.
Montoya Marin shot the heck out of this film. Leaning into both moments of intimacy and the grand scope of the situation. There is a moment in the film where Kelly and Miguel are partying together in ugly Christmas sweaters, and the way the sequence unfolds is both hilarious and heartbreaking for where these characters are at that moment.
I also have a soft spot for Albuquerque. It’s a beautiful city that became a character in its own right. Albuquerque is a city where prosperity and despair coexist; it seems that it personifies Miguel and Kelly. Both characters have the opportunity for growth but with their shame, their insecurities, their inabilities to face their pasts, they find themselves in a rut.
New Year’s films I think are some of the most difficult to craft. Montoya Marin doubled-down on New Year’s by making it during one of the most anxiety ridden times – though I think the anticipation of 2021 may rival Y2K now. The hopes and dreams people put into the opportunities a new year may afford them is endlessly nerve wracking. The track records of the year prior don’t necessarily lend optimism for the year ahead, but there’s still a sliver of hope that the thing that will break the cycle will be there.
“Millennium Bugs” is a really special film. It feels human and recognizable. The film is still not widely available, but I hope that it soon comes to a screen near you. It acknowledges the pain we carry as people while also breathing life into the hopes and love we find for ourselves and others. In a year full of strife, a film like “Millennium Bugs” demonstrates the power we have when we feel we are at our lowest and the strength we find in ourselves and give to others.