Sunday, September 1, 2013

Film review: Truth

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2013
Images from the Internet


Directed by JS Johnson
California Balloon
100 minutes, 2011 / 2013

“But I will and you won’t
And you try and I don’t”
- Carrie Newcomer (“Five Years On”)
When we meet the creepy antagonists of the story, Becca and Guy Morgan, their marriage is falling apart. She was young and he was in his late 20s, so she feels like she’s missed the adventuresome part of her youth. In real life, I know people like that, so that felt palpable to me.

Michelle Sabiene
Becca (Michelle Sabiene) is bitter and lonely within the relationship. She no longer loves Guy (Benjamin Hanson), who has a large slice of masculinist training flowing through drink and fists (plus, he takes walks through the woods with a rifle), but is still yearning for the affection she can no longer give him.

He takes her to a supposedly isolated cabin to try to work things out; but she just wants out. However, she finds the journal of a painter, Jasper (Michael Duran), who lived there in 1955 with his disgruntled wife, Clair (Natasha Quirke), who were also in a loveless marriage. Soon Jasper is appearing to Becca and an otherworldly bond occurs seemingly very fast.

Benjamin Hanson 
Okay, that’s as much of the story as you’re gonna get outta me. But there are still lots to say about it.

The filmmakers (their first full length)¸ Johnson and co-writer Chris Shalom, decided to go a DIY route, and rather than just releasing this to pay DVD and VOD, so the entire film is free on YouTube (see below), which is all the more appreciative as the quality of the film is at such a high standard. It is shot quite beautifully.

The color saturation relates to the emotions of the scenes, so in some shots nearly all the hue is sapped out until it’s nearly sepia, and other times it’s clear and bright. Then there are others where there is a yellow chromatic still shot at tense moments.

There are plenty of moments of stress, and yet this isn’t a George-and-Marsha film, but rather the storyline builds very slowly and takes patience in this 2-second cut world. The violence is minimal and there is more sensuality than sexuality, which in this case works in the release’s favor. With lovely British Columbia in February as a backdrop, it makes the scenery worth watching as well as fitting into the story, whatever the action. Yeah, it’s a bit more brown that it would be during the summer, but that part of the world is quite beautiful every time of the year. Okay, that ends the travelogue part of the program.

Michael Duran
Along with the color saturation, the editing by Andrew Gust is worth mentioning. There are many startling moments that rely solely on the editing, such as some jump cuts, and especially scene overlaps (you have to see it to comprehend it), sometimes to show what a character is thinking/feeling, that will keep your eyes on the screen.
The acting is all spot on, with Sabiene looking both vulnerable and strong, often at the same time. Becca could have easily been merely a shrewish two-dimensional annoyance, but Sabiene plays her with some empathy. She’s also attractive, and occasionally has a Patti Smith shape to her face in certain lighting. Hanson starts off seeming like the good guy in the relationship, but his lack of anger management manifests through the story. Duran plays the love interest well in a Rossano Brazzi sort of way. While I think he is too old for the role (after all, she is complaining about Guy being old and he’s closer to her age than Jasper), but he handles it charmingly well.

Natasha Quirke
There are questions to keep the interest going, such as are the ghosts real or imaginary, are they working to destroy the other’s relationships, or are they working together to destroy everyone? Is this really a Harlequin romance with a ghost, or is there something more sinister behind everything?

Not only is the film enjoyable, but I certainly liked a lot of the music, for which the use of a klezmer sound for the opening and closing was a nice and gratuitous touch. On a political side note, it’s a shame that Saskatchewan shot itself in the foot about making an independent film like this not viable by cancelling the film credit rebate. At least BC has kept it going so this Vancouver-based company may flourish.

What’s also nice about this being an online release is that there is still the extras, such as a couple of clips and a pointless making of, where you see a sped up creating of something that lasts a bit over a minute in the film. There are also a full length commentary supplied by the director, co-writer, and two others. This works at points when they actually discuss the filmmaking, but as with any commentary of more than two people, it tends to get silly and it’s hard to tell who is saying what. Please, everyone, if you don’t want to see the commentary to go the way of the dodo, no more than two in the booth at a time!

So, with a mere budget of CAN$25,000, they still managed to win the 2013 Royal Reel Award for Canada in the International Film Fest. Maybe that will perk up your interest, as well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad at least one person reviewed this film,you,and one over on IMDb.I happened upon it and before investing an hour and a half,I wanted to know a little something about it.Well,thanks to you I know a little something,thanks!