TAKEN LITERALLY, Field Guide to November Days could be read as a how-to guide for Portland's young and aimless. Beer, coffee, bikes, house shows, and awkward sex appear prominently on the film's landscape of rental houses stuffed with kitschy knickknacks. At times it honestly feels like a parody of all the stereotypes, a Look at This Fucking Hipster: The Movie in shades of mumblecore.
Laudably, Portland filmmaker Nick Peterson made Field entirely by bicycle, including all hauling and cast commuting, save for one drive to film on the Oregon Coast. The camera often settles on the characters as they deal with the familiar rattles and ungainly hassles of hauling your bike in and out of a mudroom, and how having to go back up the stairs to shut the door kind of takes the wind out of a dramatic exit.
The film is a collection of long pauses and few words, with a sad tinkling piano filling up the bulk of the quiet. It centers on the relationship drama between on-again, off-again Matt (Joe Haege) and Natalie (Briana Ledford) as they waver in and out of togetherness, failing to correct their own insecurities and wiping out with each other again. Even with minimal dialogue to work with, Haege stands out: A well-known figure in the local music scene (31Knots, Tu Fawning), the multi-talented performer melts invisibly into the much-less-confident Matt's withdrawn body posture, not to mention managing to convincingly handle both crying and kissing scenes of both homo and hetero varieties.
Field is Peterson's second feature film after Yellow, and its execution is demonstrably sensitive and artful. The dramatically somber tone could use a cut of humor or further darkness to texturize the rather one-note mood, but the skills and attention brought to the screen are an exciting indication of what Peterson can bring to the table.