Films & Schedules

  • Uncertainty

  • Scott McGehee

  • David Siegel

101 minutes

Production Company:
Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Production Designer:
Debbie DeVilla
Rain Li
Paul Zucker
Warren Shaw
Peter Nashel
Principal Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lynn Collins, Assumpta Serna, Olivia Thirlby

International Sales Agent:
Cinetic Media

TIFF Tags: Identity 

Monday September 0802:45PM AMC 9 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1007:15PM AMC 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1106:30PM AMC 6 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Scott McGehee and David Siegel have been intrigued by narrative puzzles since Suture, their audacious debut. Their work is as interested in intellectual concerns as with the emotional connections that the dramas entail. With Uncertainty, their dazzling new Rubik's cube of a picture, they stretch into new territory. The film's conceit is as simple as it is rich with potential. Take one normal, youthful, in-love couple, and set them in New York on the Fourth of July. Standing on a bridge at the beginning of the holiday, Kate and Bobby make an initial decision: they turn one way and a narrative starts. Meanwhile, we see an alternative narrative in which the couple turns the other way, engaging a different story and another set of possibilities. The two stories – about the same couple on the same day – are told congruently, cross-cut between the one and the other.

In one version, they get into their car and set out to celebrate the holiday with Kate's family. In the other, they hail a cab and decide not to go to her mother's. The choices are mundane – but they end up having completely different implications. A question of responsibility versus freedom lies at the heart of the decision. One option leads toward adventure and a rollercoaster ride of a narrative, and while the other is safer and familiar, it is no less dramatic.

Although the narrative structure lends the film an intellectual architecture, the overall effect is electric. Indeed, these two very talented filmmakers find a wealth of emotion in both stories. The action tale pushes our two protagonists together and explores the depth of their commitment, while the domestic saga plays out on a stage that is far more recognizable. In Uncertainty, the romantic notion of plunging into the wild is explored in contrast with the far less appealing – at least on the surface – world of the domestic. It is ultimately up to us to decide which is more rewarding, but along the way, Siegel and McGehee tease our minds with the age-old question: What if?

Piers Handling

Scott McGehee holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University and an M.A. in film studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He began making short films with David Siegel in San Francisco after graduate school. Their first feature, Suture (93), screened as part of the Festival's First Cinema programme. They have since co-directed The Deep End (01), Bee Season (05) and Uncertainty (08).

David Siegel received a B.A. in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley before pursuing graduate studies in photography and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has co-directed several short films with Scott McGehee, including the features Suture (93), The Deep End (01), Bee Season (05) and Uncertainty (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award