REVIEW — “Millennium Bugs”
As a Gen Z kid who often feels like he was born *right* before the cusp of being labeled a Millennial, I have an equal amount of nostalgia for the 90s as I do a sense of separation from them. So much 90s content and style has influenced my life greatly, even though it was all being produced before I could consume it properly. And yet, I feel an attachment to this time in the world, unlike any other era. In recent years, we have gotten an abundance of 80s love letters through various forms of media, but I have always wanted a similar resurgence for 90s nostalgia. Millennium Bugs tackles the last few days of the 90s, as well as the paranoia of transitioning into a new Millenium through the lens of two characters that aren’t ready to move on with their lives. The backdrop of Y2K is only half of what makes the film.
The film follows best friends Kelly (Katy Erin) and Miguel (Michael Lovato) who are both seemingly at their lowest in one of the biggest transition periods the world has ever known. Kelly is dealing with unresolved grief and has been using isolation and drugs/alcohol as a way to not confront the realities of moving on from her parent’s death. Miguel is equally lost at this point in time, as he feels a deep love for pursuing his passion in stand-up comedy, while his immigrant parents disapprove of the road he seemingly wants to take. Together, Kelly and Miguel try to find themselves before the start of a new era through a handful of drunken adventures and emotional revelations.
One of my favorite qualities of independent filmmaking is how often personal they can feel. Millennium Bugs is no exception, as it feels like writer/director Alejandro Montoya Marin really poured a lot of genuine emotion into the screenplay. You get to know both of the lead characters fairly deeply and feel equal frustration with them as you do sympathy. Katy Erin and Michael Lovato both give great performances here and share genuine on-screen chemistry that elevated the film to be a genuine blast to watch. I also believe this is in credit to not only the sharp screenplay with genuine wit but as well as the fast-paced editing. Sometimes, it can feel like a bit much and you want to linger in a certain sequence a bit longer – but it mostly just fits the vibe of these characters and story perfectly.
By the end of the film, it feels as though you went through a complete journey with these characters, and the emotional payoff is done in a way that feels true to the personality of them, instead of feeling out of place. And that’s what I truly loved about this film, it is genuinely a unique vision and voice with a lot of love for its characters. I think there’s potential for Marin to go even deeper and personal with his characters in future projects that would make the drama hit even deeper – but as Millennium Bugs stands, it’s a super charming and genuinely funny look into such a unique cultural shift in the history of the world, through the lens of characters who aren’t quite ready for that shift to happen in their lives.
The film is premiering virtually this week at the Dances with Films festival. Check here to get tickets!