Attention science nerds. Well, you don’t have to be a nerd to get engrossed watching Linoleum, screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Jim Gaffigan plays George Westinghouse, a rudderless man recently fired from his job as the host of a late night children’s science show, in the vein of Bill Neigh, the Science Guy. Poor George, his wife Erin, (Rhea Seehorn), wants a divorce and his family doesn’t understand him.
Linoleum dares you to think different, as it shape shifts between drama, comedy, science fiction, surrealism, metaphor, midlife crisis, multiple sidetracks, whilst dropping a few Easter eggs along the way.
Speaking of inexplicable, the action begins with a red sports car falling from the sky, barely missing George as he’s bicycling home. The lifeless driver looks a lot like him. Thus begins the many questions. Is that younger, better looking doppelgänger our protagonist in a parallel dimension? That very same man reemerges as the neighbor next door. I won’t spoil the rest for you, but… keep an eye on the son… just sayin.
Oh, and a possibly Russian aircraft lands in his back yard. Being massively disappointed in himself for not doing something fantastic with his life, the next logical step for George is to rebuild that rocket ship in the garage, then launch it into space.
Colin West, the director, breaks down his film as a meditation on love and science. He brought on a USF neurologist and psychologist to consult. The plot incorporates many examples of the foibles of human behavior, such as tricks of the mind, sort of like the old gorilla in the room experiment where the test subjects were so busy concentrating on the action before them, they didn’t notice the large gorilla walking across the room.
West states that the spark for this film was his grandparents, together for 60 plus years. Grandad’s last possession was his watch, set three hours ahead. Was he living three hours in the future, or are we all living in the past? Memory vs reality. Confused, frustrated? Linoleum means whatever you decide it means, and it will mean so much more on the second or third viewing.