18 August 2009 | rsoonsa
Cleanly Assembled Melodrama Of A Young Man Coming To Grips With Tall Odds.
This undervalued film is consistently interesting, and benefits from solid production values and able performances by cast members, as well as a felicitous score by composer/pianist Cingiz Yaltkaya that matches the work's melancholy tone, and excellent design that adds to the effectively directed pacing of the narrative. It is a tale that relates of a vagabond who decides to investigate the ostensible suicide of his younger brother despite having to deal with rude demeanor from a community that avoids giving answers to his probing queries. Frank Reade (Michael O'Keefe), an aimless rover of sorts, returns to his home town in order to attend funeral services for his younger brother Jimmy, apparently a suicide. His incidental attempts to learn what was behind Jimmy's passing are obstructed by his friends and by his own father (John Seitz), all while Jimmy's somewhat emotionally disturbed girl friend Jolene (Bridget Fonda) attaches herself to an initially resistant Frank; however, her enigmatic remarks to him eventually contain a special significance that lead him to believe that his brother's death may have been a homicide. When Frank delves into possible causes of the fatal event, he unsheathes a tangle of illicit activity involving narcotics that has engaged both Jimmy and his father, in addition to discovering an incestuous relationship that has snared Jolene and, largely as a result of a corrupt local sheriff, it becomes quite plain that Frank Reade's stay in the town will be for a much longer period than was anticipated by him. Most of the film's players are at least competent, with O'Keefe gathering in the acting honours with an intense performance as a loner who finds himself over his head in a struggle with townspeople who are not inclined to wish the best for him. Fonda creates her role of Jolene with skill despite its being a rather underwritten part. Although the scenario hastens to a maladroit conclusion, director Winick and those others responsible for post-production editing have united to establish the work's noteworthy pacing, and the camera skills of Makato Watanabe visually the captures the enervated character of an industrial community in decline. Scoring by Yaltkaya, albeit deceptively modest, has received first class sound editing to match the film's moody temper. Shot in upstate New York's Fulton County, largely in the small cities of Johnstown and Gloversville, this film can be recommended to those viewers interested in independent cinema, principally for its mood projection, as well as for its smooth narrative flow, until its rickety final scenes. It has not been released in a DVD format but is worth one's effort to locate as a VHS tape.