January 2004

Addiction

Bobby (Frank Franconeri) and Lisa (Mim Granahan) have the perfect life. They are young, successful, have a nice suburban house and are very much in love.

All this changes when Bobby becomes the victim of an attempted mugging. In the ensuing scuffle, Bobby stabs the mugger – repeatedly – and then flees the scene to the safety of his office where he starts to grapple with a range of emotions – fear, panic, excitement, rage, exhilaration – that he doesn’t even begin to understand.

Rather than admit to anyone what he is going through, Bobby starts to silently obsess over what has happened, alienating himself from those around him as his obsession grows, steadily consuming his life until he feels the need to repeat the experience.

Bobby’s obsession is now his addiction…

Addiction is a very ambitious film that deals unflinchingly with the nature and consequences of addiction and there is much to commend it. The film could have easily drifted into ‘psycho-killer’ territory and it’s to the credit of both writer, Joshua Nelson, and the performances of the actors that the film remains such a believable drama.

The script is also very solid, with the addiction theme running throughout – from Lisa’s inability to quit smoking to Bobby’s junkie cousin, Frankie (Joshua Nelson), who provides the clearest parallel between Bobby’s growing obsession and drug addiction.

The acting is excellent throughout, with a special mention going to Frank Franconeri who, as Bobby, does a great job of carrying the film. It was also nice to see that the supporting cast were given enough screen time to become complete characters rather than cardboard victims.

Unfortunately, this brings me to my first gripe.

There are a couple of subplots that didn’t really come to a satisfactory resolution, the one with the waitress being the most noticeable. Given the amount of time spent with the characters I was disappointed with the resolution of this plot thread.

The other problem I had with the film was the number of good ideas that were floated for a scene or two and then dropped – Bobby’s imagined conversations with the dead mugger, the emergence of the bullied child deep within his psyche and his increasing inability to distinguish fantasy from reality are all themes that could have been explored further.

Addiction is a very good drama with a strong script and consistently solid acting although some of the sub-plots could have been tightened up a bit to provide more focus on Bobby as he struggles with and eventually fails to control his growing addiction.

Update : Since writing this review, I have heard from the films writer, Joshua Nelson, that there is a new cut that is 18 minutes shorter. If this shorter running time reflects a tightening of the sub-plots, which I am assuming it does, then Addiction could easily get an extra star.

Bent: Volume Two

The second film in Mindscape Pictures’ Bent series of short film anthologies starts with a quote from Alexander Pope in order to describe the theme linking the three films that make up this feature.

“On life’s vast ocean
diversely we sail.
Reason the card,
But passion is the gale.”

So on with the films

The Dinner
Like Marissa, The Dinner is a great example of visual storytelling. The beautifully shot and entirely dialogue-free film tells the story of four friends – two couples – and a dinner party.

Of course, there is more to the relationships between the friends than is immediately apparent and, over the course of the meal and a few bottles of wine, this starts to become increasingly apparent.

And, it has to be said, writer/director, Jason Santo does an excellent job of bringing these tensions to the attention of the viewer without revealing too much too soon.

Although I had guessed where the hidden feelings lay before it was finally revealed, this was far from obvious.

On the downside, I do feel that the film carried on a bit too long. Once the revelation had been made, the film kept on going. Although the background information provided in this part of the film wasn’t entirely superfluous, it wasn’t entirely necessary either.

That said, The Dinner is a beautifully shot and well acted film in which the occasional furtive glance reveals far more than a ream of dialogue.

Time Heals All Wounds
Time Heals All Wounds is a film that could easily have been an episode of The Twilight Zone.

In it, Mike (Roman Berman) starts to irritate his friend, Ellen (Alecia Batson) as he revisits – yet again – the subject of why his ex-girlfriend left him.

Mike, a man obsessed, is either unable or unwilling to move on from the break-up of his relationship and, during the course of the conversation, wishes that he could exist in his own time until he could figure things out.

Thanks to the magic of cinema, this happens and Mike and Ellen find themselves trapped in a stationary world until Mike can understand what led to his single status.

Time Heals All Wounds is probably the weakest of the three films in this collection. The Twilight Zone feel didn’t really do it a lot of favours and I found that the reason for Mike’s single status was a bit too hard to believe in.

That said, it does have an excellent ending.

In a Sky With No Angels
The Mindscape team are clearly believers in saving the best until last. I’m not sure how many plot twists can be crammed into a forty minute film, but In a Sky With No Angels certainly makes a good attempt at setting the record.

Sarah Grey (Kathy Nestor) gets a call from a hardly remembered high school colleague, Paul (Jason Santo) who wants to meet. When they meet, Paul abruptly walks out, leaving a note asking her to meet him in a hotel room.

Once there, he promises to reveal a life changing secret. And from here on in, the plot twists, and twists and twists.

There isn’t much more I can say about the plot without giving too much away, but it really does keep you engrossed.

Well acted and very original, In a Sky With No Angels really is a must see film.