Kitchen Sink Comedy Chronicles Cutthroat Rivalry between Neighboring New Orleans Barbershops

 

N.O.L.A. Circus

Film Review by Kam Williams

Kitchen Sink Comedy Chronicles Cutthroat Rivalry between Neighboring New Orleans Barbershops

Will (Martin Bradford) is the proprietor of Kupcakes, a hair salon located in Algiers, the only New Orleans parish on the west side of the Mississippi River. What makes him unique is that he’s also a grassroots activist who periodically stands on the proverbial soap box, preaching to anybody who’ll listen about Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

N.O.L.A. Circus,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Martin Bradford, Politically-incorrect, crassploitation fare strictly for the unshockable

He only has one employee, Nola (Jessica Morali), a gorgeous shampoo girl. They are secretly lovers, too, only because she has a very overprotective brother, Denzel (Reginal Varice), who is driven beserk just by the thought of her sleeping with anybody.

For example, he went crazy and beat up the entire staff at Napoli’s Pizzeria, when he suspected the owner of sleeping with her. Gesuippe Napoli (Ricky Wayne) was so incensed by the pummeling that he’s summoned a hit man from Sicily (Gianni Boromei) to knock off the perpetrator.       

Meanwhile, right across the street from Kupcakes we find Marvin’s, an old-fashioned barbershop frequented by a colorful cast of characters. The place is run by Marvin (Vas Blackwood) and his two brothers, Hathi (Corey Mendell Parker) and Anaconda (Nicoye Banks).

Each of the siblings has a distinctive physical trait. Marvin has a huge Afro, Hathi has big ears, and Anaconda was blessed with gargantuan genitalia, hence the nickname. And he’s a sex addict dating Nola’s BFF, Karen (Kamille McCuin). Karen is the neighborhood drug dealer, not to be confused with another hustler who lurks around, pressuring passersby to purchase everything from watches to underwear.

N.O.L.A. Circus,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Martin Bradford, Politically-incorrect, crassploitation fare strictly for the unshockable

Additional players in this theater of the absurd include Woody (Lucius Baston), an aspiring opera singer who only stutters when he speaks, and a a trio of hooded Ku Klux Klansmen threatening to kill Will unless he stops the pontificating in favor of civil rights.

All of the above are afforded their moments to shine in N.O.L.A. Circus, a kitchen sink comedy written and directed by Luc Annest. The foul-mouthed Frenchman is apparently unaware of contemporary social trends, since his irreverent film debut arrives laced with profanity, ethnic slurs, misogyny and assorted other salacious material ostensibly intended to easily offend.

The picture relies on a preposterous plot somewhat redeemed by the fact that the outrageous antics onscreen are often hilarious. So, don’t be surprised if you end up laughing in spite of yourself.

Politically-incorrect, crassploitation fare strictly for the unshockable!

Very Good (2.5 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 89 minutes

Distributor: XLrator Media

WWI Saga Revolves around Love Triangle in the Midst of Ethnic Cleansing

 

The Promise

Film Review by Kam Williams

WWI Saga Revolves around Love Triangle in the Midst of Ethnic Cleansing

It’s Eastern Turkey in 1914, which is where we find druggist Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) applying his trade in his half-Armenian/half-Turkish village where Christians and Muslims get along swell. The ambitious, young apothecary would really rather be a doctor, so he strategically courts a neighbor (Angela Sarafyan) from a relatively-wealthy family just for the dowry.

Oscar Isaac as Michael Boghosian in The Promise. Photo Credit: Jose Haro

Those 400 gold coins do enable him to afford med school. However, while studying in Constantinople, he falls head-over-heels for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), a fellow Armenian recently repatriated from France. The country bumpkin is taken not only with her pulchritude but with her urbane sophistication ostensibly cultivated over the course of a childhood spent in Paris. Trouble is, Ana has returned accompanied by her lover, Chris Meyers (Christian Bale), an intrepid, American photojournalist assigned by the Associated Press to find evidence of ethnic cleansing.

The Promise,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Oscar Isaac, Angela Sarafyan, Muslim, Armenian, ethnic cleansing, heroism

Charlotte Le Bon as Ana Khesarian and Christian Bale as Chris Myers in The Promise. Directed by Terry George. Photo Credit: Jose Haro

The plot thickens when World War I erupts. Instead of pursuing Ana and his M.D., Mikael finds himself fleeing the roundup of innocent Armenian civilians by the Turkish army. He makes his way back to his tiny hometown to rescue relatives and friends. Meanwhile, Ana is in a similar struggle to survive, and her beau does his best to shoot proof of the savage slaughter rumored to be transpiring.   

That is the dire set of circumstances established at the outset of The Promise, a riveting docudrama directed and co-written by Oscar-winner Terry George (The Short).  The edge-of-your-seat thriller bears an uncanny resemblance to Hotel Rwanda, which George directed and co-wrote, too.

The Promise,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Oscar Isaac, Angela Sarafyan, Muslim, Armenian, ethnic cleansing, heroism

For both of these films chronicle extraordinary exhibitions of heroism in the face of a complete collapse of civilization. If this picture has a flaw, it’s that it appears to be trivializing the ethnic cleansing of one and a half million Armenians when it asks that holocaust to serve as a mere backdrop to the love story at the center of the saga.

That being said, I nevertheless invested in the characters emotionally, and ended up teary-eyed during the denouement. War may be hell, but luckily, love still conquers all!

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, sexuality, violence, disturbing images and war atrocities

Running time: 134 minutes

Production Studio: Survival Pictures

Distributor: Open Road Films

Source:  GIG News

Dom Goes Rogue for Damsel-in-Distress in 8th episode of High-Octane Franchise

 

The Fate of the Furious

Film Review by Kam Williams

Dom Goes Rogue for Damsel-in-Distress in 8th episode of High-Octane Franchise

There are a number of action films whose opening scenes alone are well worth the price of admission. Taken (2008), District B-13 (2004) Super 8 (2011) and Dawn of the Dead (2004)  are four which automatically come to mind. Feel free to add The Fate of the Furious to the list of flicks that grab you by the throat right off the bat.

The Fate of the Furious,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, spectacular stunts, bona fide summer blockbuster

The fun starts in Cuba, which is where newlyweds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are happily honeymooning. But their nuptial bliss is interrupted when Dom comes to the rescue when a repo man threatens to cart off his cousin’s vintage jalopy.

Dom talks the guy out of towing and into a drag race to settle their differences. What ensues is heart-stopping careening around the colorful streets of Havana leading to a crowd-pleasing photo finish right at the ocean shore.

Next, we find the bride and groom relaxing back at the hotel. Letty, aware of her biological clock ticking, brings up the idea of starting a family. However, before they decide, Dom goes for a fateful walk alone during which he stops to lend a hand to a damsel ostensibly in automobile distress (Charlize Theron).

The Fate of the Furious,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, spectacular stunts, bona fide summer blockbuster

Truth be told, it’s Cipher, a cyber-terrorist bent on world domination through the acquisition of a gizmo capable of shutting down the electrical grid. She blackmails Dom into joining her criminal enterprise by showing him something very incriminating on her cell phone.

Just like that, the stage is set for a high-octane battle of brawn, muscle cars and wits which has Dom squaring off against his wife and a reassembled gang composed of returnees: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Roman (Tyrese) as well as new team leader Frank (Kurt Russell), his awkward assistant Eric (Scott Eastwood) and ex-villain  Deckard (Jason Statham).

Forget the idea of following the plot. It’s messy and there are way too many characters to follow. Just sit back and soak in the spectacular stunts, the playful badinage between Hobbs and Deckard, and the comic relief coming courtesy of Roman.

It may only be April, but here it is, the year’s first, bona fide summer blockbuster! . 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, and prolonged sequences of violence and destruction

Running time: 136 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Source:  GIG News

Blind Man Abandons Family after Regaining Sight in Midlife Crisis Drama

 
The Ticket,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Dan Stevens, introspective, midlife crisis drama, Ido FlukThe Ticket

Film Review by Kam Williams

Blind Man Abandons Family after Regaining Sight in Midlife Crisis Drama

James (Dan Stevens) was blinded during childhood by a pituitary tumor. To his credit, he never let the condition prevent him from marrying or making a living.

Despite their modest circumstances, he’s been grateful for the love of his plain but supportive wife, Sam (Malin Akerman), who bore him a beautiful son, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner). Career-wise, he’s been happy having a steady job in real estate where he works alongside his blind BFF, Bob (Oliver Platt).

But James’ perspective of all of the above changes dramatically after he miraculously regains his sight. It’s not long before he becomes more ambitious and demands a higher paying position. He also stops hanging around with Bob whom he accuses of now being jealous.

He treats Sam just as cruelly, asking whether she was with him more out of pity than love. Then he proceeds to abandon her for a pretty colleague (Kerry Bishe), and moves out of the house for nicer digs.

That is the intriguing point of departure of The Ticket, an introspective, midlife crisis drama directed and co-written by Ido Fluk (Never Too Late). Once you’re okay with the picture’s novel premise, don’t be surprised to find yourself sucked into its super-realistic, if harsh realities.

The Ticket,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Dan Stevens, introspective, midlife crisis drama, Ido Fluk

Dan Stevens in THE TICKET. Photgrapher: Zack Galler

How would you behave in James’ situation? We all like to think of ourselves as far more virtuous than the creep he turns into. Yet, this thought-provoking character study suggests that you really might have to walk a mile in his moccasins to have a good idea.

There but for misfortune may go you or I.

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 99 minutes

Production Studio: Rush River Entertainment

Distributor: Shout! Factory Films

Source:  GIG News

Freeman, Arkin and Caine Co-Star in Remake of Classic Crime Caper

 

Going in Style

Film Review by Kam Williams

Freeman, Arkin and Caine Co-Star in Remake of Classic Crime Caper 

Released in 1979, Going in Style revolved around a trio of retirees who break the monotony of their dreary daily lives by robbing a bank. That critically-acclaimed, comic caper co-starred a trio of entertainment icons in George Burns, Art Carney and the legendary Lee Strasberg, the father of method acting.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/going_in_style_2017#&gid=1&pid=n-1431306

Ordinarily, one would think twice before mounting a remake of such a beloved classic. Not Zach Braff (Garden State). Despite the daunting challenge, the ambitious actor-turned-director decided to give it a go.

First, he turned to Oscar-nominee Theodore Melfi (for Hidden Figures’ screenplay). Melfi came up with a terrific script only loosely based on the original. He retained the main characters’ names and the basic “bank heist” premise while updating the dialogue and overhauling plot to yield a rollicking, laff-a-minute adventure.

Second, Zach retained the services of Academy Award-Winners Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin to play the leads. Although 79, 84 and 83, respectively, these reliable, accomplished thespians generate an endearing camaraderie and deliver every punchline with perfect timing.

At the point of departure, we find Joe (Caine) in the midst of complaining to an unsympathetic loan officer (Josh Pais) about Williamsburg Savings’ impending foreclosure on his home when the place is suddenly held-up by a gang of masked men. Later that day, while commiserating with former co-workers Willie (Freeman) and Al (Arkin), Joe realizes they’ve all fallen prey to the bank’s shady practices which includes completely draining the pension fund they’re all dependent on.

But instead of alerting the authorities, the victims opt to take the law into their own hands, conspiring to retrieve at gunpoint precisely the same amount “stolen” from them. Of course, the hold up proves easier planned than executed, given that this is each of these geezer’s first felony.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/going_in_style_2017#&gid=1&pid=n-1431306

Fortunately, the BFFs are not to be deterred, even after a disastrous dry run shoplifting at a supermarket. What’s bad for them is great for the audience, as the laughs just keep coming clear through the closing credits.

You can’t ask any more of a madcap comedy than this much hilarity!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for profanity, drug use and suggestive material

Running time: 97 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

Source:  GIG News

Smurf Series Rebooted as Animated Tale of Female Empowerment

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village

Film Review by Kam Williams

Smurf Series Rebooted as Animated Tale of Female Empowerment

Created by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo, the Smurfs started out as a comic strip back  in 1958. Over the intervening years, the popular series chronicling the exploits of a clan of diminutive blue humanoids crossed over to television and film, most recently, a pair of live-action features released in 2011 and 2013.

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Clumsy (Jack McBrayer), Brainy (Danny Pud), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Smurfette (Demi Lovato), SmurfBlossom (Ellie Kemper) and SmurfWillow (Julia Roberts) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is an animated tale of female empowerment co-written by  Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon. That’s the same Pamela Ribon whose previous screenplay was the similarly-themed Moana. Here, she has ostensibly imbued the headstrong heroine of this production with some of the same attributes as the intrepid Moana.

The Lost Village revolves around Smurfette (Demi Lovato), heretofore the only female Smurf. In fact, she’s not actually a Smurf, but a facsimile fabricated from a lump of clay by the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson).

As the film unfolds, we find her frolicking around the very peaceable Smurfdom with her best friends Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello) and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer). Narrator/patriarch Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) is quick to point out that all the other smurfs’ names tells you their dominant trait, ala Grouchy (Jake Johnson), Jokey (Gabriel Iglesias) and Nosey (Kelly Asbury), while Smurfette’s alone fails to reveal a hint about her.

The plot thickens when the adventurous Smurfette, with the help of an inverted leaf,  hang glides over the wall separating the Smurf compound from the Forbidden Forest. Her worried BFFs follow suit, and the quartet soon finds a mysterious map with directions leading to the Lost Village, an all-girl enclave of Amazonian Smurfs led by the imperious Smurfwillow (Julia Roberts).

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9NO8wk4n1Cs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Smurfs in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE.

Next thing you know, the fearless foursome is in a a race with Gargamel to discover the place. He’s hatched a diabolical plot to kidnap all the Smurfs. The plan is to become the most powerful wizard in the world by ingesting their essence after boiling them in his lab.

Not to worry. There’s a two-fisted shero prepared to prove, in convincing fashion, that a girl can grow up to be anything she wants to be. A priceless primer for impressionable tykes!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG for mild action and rude humor

Running time: 90 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Source:  GIG News

Holocaust Drama Recounts Daring Exploits of Heroine Who Save Hundreds of Jews

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Film Review by Kam Williams

Holocaust Drama Recounts Daring Exploits of Heroine Who Save Hundreds of Jews

In 1928, Dr. Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) became the director of the Warsaw Zoo. Over the next decade, he ran it  with the help of his wife, Antonina (Jessica Chastain), who was something of a wildlife whisperer. The institution flourished under their control until the outbreak of the Second World War in September of ’39 when Hitler invaded Poland.

The Zookeeper's Wife,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Dr. Jan Zabinski, Warsaw Zoo, Diane Ackerman, spine-tingling, quality performance

The zoo was closed to the public after being repeatedly bombed by the Luftwaffe during the siege of the city. However, the Zabinskis continued to live on the grounds with their young son (Timothy Radford) and the beleaguered animals that survived the attacks.

But once Warsaw was occupied by the Nazis, the couple was ordered to report directly to Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), the Third Reich’s recently-appointed chief zoologist. Despite being married, Heck never bothered to hide his lust for attractive Antonina, shamelessly forcing himself on her as they attended to the agglomeration of exotic beasts scattered around the premises.

Knowing that resistance was futile and might cost her her life, Jan directed his wife to submit to the unwelcome advances. And he understandably ended up feeling utterly emasculated by the frustration of failing to prevent her being pawed by the creepy Hitler henchman.   

The Zookeeper's Wife,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Dr. Jan Zabinski, Warsaw Zoo, Diane Ackerman, spine-tingling, quality performance

Nevertheless, the  Zabinskis did find an avenue of retaliation in the Polish the resistance movement. Joining the Underground, they secretly helped smuggle Jews destined for the concentration camps out of the Warsaw ghetto. Furthermore, they hid the escapees on the grounds of the zoo at a time when death was the punishment for attempting to liberate a Jew.

This is the spine-tingling series of events chronicled by The Zookeeper’s Wife, a fact-based docudrama adapted from Diane Ackerman’s best seller of the same name. Ackerman’s book, FYI, had, in turn, been based on an unpublished memoir by Antonina Zabinski herself.

The Zookeeper's Wife,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Dr. Jan Zabinski, Warsaw Zoo, Diane Ackerman, spine-tingling, quality performance

Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider), the picture stars Jessica Chastain as the fearless and endearing title character. The two-time, Academy Award-nominee (for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty) delivers another quality performance here, which is no surprise given how Caro has previously coaxed Oscar-nominated performances out of a trio of talented actresses (Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand and Keisha Castle-Hughes).

A bittersweet biopic belatedly paying tribute to an unsung heroine who selflessly put her life on the line in the face of unspeakable evil.     

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated  PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, mature themes, smoking, sexuality and brief nudity

Running time: 126 minutes

Studio: Scion Films

Distributor: Focus Features

Source:  GIG News

Dax Shepard and Michael Pena Co-Star in Raunchy Revival of Classic Cop Series

 

Chips

Film Review by Kam Williams

Dax Shepard and Michael Pena Co-Star in Raunchy Revival of Classic Cop Series

Whenever a classic television series is made into a movie, the buzz always seems to be about whether the screen version will be a creative variation on the theme or merely a campy, cornball, take-the-money-and-run ripoff trading in familiar formulas and shopworn cliches. After all, for every inspired adaptation like Batman (1989), Charlie’s Angels (2000) and 21 Jump Street (2012) there are just as many bitter disappointments, al a  Dragnet (1987), I Spy (2002) and Get Smart (2008).

 Chips,  Film Review by Kam Williams, vulgar but funny, Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Isiah Whitlock, Jr

Fortunately, Chips is more in league with the worthwhile remakes rather than the ones leaving you wondering why they ever bothered. The picture was ostensibly a labor of Dax Shepard who wrote, directed, produced and also co-stars in it opposite Michael Pena. They  play California Highway Patrol Officers Ponch Poncherello and Jon Baker, the same characters popularized on TV by Erik Estrada and Larry Willcox.

The original, airing for a half dozen seasons starting in 1977, was a buddy action drama basically revolving around the heroic exploits of a couple of mismatched motorcycle cops, with Ponch often going rogue, much to the chagrin of his relatively-straitlaced partner.  This go-round, the script has been flipped, so that Jon is more of a misfit. At the point of departure, we find him getting a probationary badge and graduating from the police academy only because Sergeant Hernandez (Maya Rudolph) takes pity on him.

 Chips,  Film Review by Kam Williams, vulgar but funny, Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Isiah Whitlock, Jr

They’re both going through difficult divorces, although Jon is desperate to win back his wife (Kristen Bell). He hopes she’ll be impressed by his transition into a safer line of work after an accident-prone career as a professional motorcross bike racer.

He’s soon teamed with the veteran Ponch to solve a rash of armored car robberies suspected of being pulled off by a gang of crooked cops. They proceed to make a mess of the investigation at every turn, which only makes their terminally-exasperated boss (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) repeatedly blow his cork.

However, there’s little reason to pay attention to the intermittently-incoherent plot, for this kitchen sink comedy’s raison d’etre is to generate laughs by any means necessary. To that end, the politically-incorrect bottom feeder easily earns its R rating via an incessant indulgence in scatological, ethnic, sexist, slapstick, bodily function and gay panic fare.

 Chips,  Film Review by Kam Williams, vulgar but funny, Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Isiah Whitlock, Jr

A vulgar but funny enough departure from the classic TV series to warrant recommending. 

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated  R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, violence, drug use and pervasive profanity

Running time: 100 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

Source:  GIG News

Reverential Retrospective Revisits Abbreviated Life of Legendary Jazz Great

 

I Called Him Morgan

Film Review by Kam Williams

Reverential Retrospective Revisits Abbreviated Life of Legendary Jazz Great

Legendary jazz great Lee Morgan (1938-1972) was born and raised in Philadelphia where he received his first trumpet as a gift from his sister on his 13th birthday. He soon became a protege of Clifford Brown who would die in a car accident at the tender age of 25.

I Called Him Morgan, Film Review by Kam Williams, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, fascinating, Hell hath no fury like a Helen scorned!

Lee passed away prematurely, too, though he was murdered by his common-law wife, Helen, in a fit of jealous rage. She blew him away in between sets at a Greenwich Village cabaret because not only was he cheating on her but had the temerity to bring his mistress with him to the club that night.

Written and directed by Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan is a warts-and-all retrospective chronicling the highs and lows of Lee’s checkered career. He enjoyed a meteoric rise as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band while still in his teens, only to eventually become broke because of a heroin habit that made him so unreliable that nobody in the music industry would hire him anymore.

Upon bottoming out, Lee was lucky to meet Helen, a woman 14 years his senior who put him in rehab and let him move into her Manhattan apartment after he got cleaned up. She subsequently became both his lover and his business manager, negotiating deals and escorting him to gigs.

Initially very grateful, Lee proceeded to make the most of the shot at redemption she afforded him. He resumed performing and churning out albums, and became a very productive and respected member of the jazz community again.

Unfortunately, the accolades and attention accompanying success apparently went straight to his head, and he started taking Helen for granted. Lee had an eyes for the ladies and, when he stopped coming home at night, Helen issued him a warning that she couldn’t handle such insulting mistreatment.

Their turbulent relationship came to a head on the night of February 19, 1972 after a heated exchange at Slug’s Saloon . First, Lee’s new girlfriend confronted Helen. Helen then slapped Lee. Lee tossed Helen out of the bar and into a blizzard without a coat. Helen came back with the gun Lee had given her for protection and shot her philandering man once in the chest. Since it took an ambulance over an hour to arrive due to the heavy snowfall, Lee bled out.

What makes this film so fascinating is that much of it is narrated by Helen herself, albeit posthumously. For,  just one month before she died in March of 1996, she sat down to talk with a music professor who recorded her life story for posterity. Besides that audiotape, the documentary features file concert footage, plus the reflections of many of Lee’s contemporaries: Ben Maupin, Wayne Shorter, Benny Maupin, Billy Harper and more.

To paraphrase an age-old maxim, Hell hath no fury like a Helen scorned!

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated 

Running time: 92 minutes

Production Studio: Kasper Collin Produktion

Distributor: Submarine Deluxe

To see a trailer for I Called Him Morgan, visit: https://vimeo.com/181151415

I Called Him Morgan, Film Review by Kam Williams, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, fascinating, Hell hath no fury like a Helen scorned!

Source:  GIG News

Prodigal Daughter Tries to Reconcile with Estranged Dad in Haunting Parable of Biblical Proportions

 

The Levelling,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Ellie Kendrick, David Troughton, strained father-daughter relationship, The Levelling

Film Review by Kam Williams

Prodigal Daughter Tries to Reconcile with Estranged Dad in Haunting Parable of Biblical Proportions

It’s not very clear whether Harry Catto’s (Joe Blakemore) death was a murder or a suicide. One thing’s for certain, though. It wasn’t merely a mishap, because nobody accidentally sticks a gun in his own mouth and pulls the trigger. The cops suspect that he killed himself, but his father (David Troughton) is too much in shock to press them to launch a full investigation.

This tragic state of affairs greets Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) when she returns home to attend her younger brother’s funeral. Although she’s been away in veterinary school, she’s been estranged from her father for years. In fact, this is her first visit back to Somerset since the 2013 flood which devastated most of the wetland region’s coastal plains.

Upon arriving, Clover sees that much of the rural area still hasn’t recovered from the deluge, including the flattened dairy farm that she grew up on. But before she can devote any attention to the idea of resurrecting the family-owned estate, the grief-stricken Prodigal Daughter needs to focus on reconciling with her father and on figuring out the circumstances surrounding her sibling’s slaying.

That is the engaging point of departure of The Levelling, a haunting, modern parable of Biblical proportions. The deliberately-paced mood piece unfolding against a decidedly-barren, British backdrop marks a most impressive writing and directorial debut by Hope Dickson Leach.

The film also features a nonpareil performance on the part of Ellie Kendrick as Clover. The talented ingenue exhibits considerable range in service of a very emotionally-demanding role. She is assisted in this endeavor by an equally-capable supporting cast basically composed of David Troughton as a dad plunged deep in denial, and Jack Holden as an eyewitness with lots of answers.

The Levelling,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Ellie Kendrick, David Troughton, strained father-daughter relationship,

A heartbreakingly-palpable exploration of a strained father-daughter relationship as well as a thorough post mortem on their loved one’s untimely passing!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity and brief frontal nudity

Running time: 84 minutes

Distributor: Monterey Media

Source:  GIG News