29 February 2020 | TwistedContent
Quietly Amazing Indie Drama
Before going on to direct a whole season of "Channel Zero" and commit to some other tv-series, director Steven Piet put on the table his directional debut (also his first and only writing credit) "Uncle John" - part subtle, romantic drama and part small town folk murder tale. "Uncle John" might be lesser than the sum of its good parts, but I can hardly call it disjointed, and its strength resides mainly in atmosphere, performances and cinematography.
In "Uncle John", there are two story lines evolving simultaneously, one concentrates on Uncle John himself as he tries to get through the days in his small, rural town all the while trying to avoid suspicion of murder (which he sure commited, not a spoiler at all). John Ashton provides an absolute stand out, career-defining performance. There's not a whole lot of action or dialogue in his story, with John it's just nice to be with him as he deals with his misdeeds and drives lonely around the country roads. Atmosphere's just right, careful, humble, effective & so is the cinematography, so simple and thought through that it's near perfect. At the same time, we follow John's nephew Ben as he spends his days in the big city, working as a digital designer and slowly falling in love with his new colleague Kate. More dialogue and a steady injection of romance, all to a good measure, until they go on an impromptu trip to visit Uncle John. "Uncle John" doesn't offer the substance some may expect and perhaps questions don't get answered, but the focus, for the whole runtime, is unmistakably fixed on the emotional journeys of the characters, with (can't emphasize on it enough) the absolute highlight being John Ashton and his character's subtle, contained and humble yet nuanced performance / character arc. Of course, the pacing of "Uncle John" is slow. Worth it though. When both stories join together, the conclusion doesn't result in fireworks as I was expecting, which is a good thing. I was anticipating the opposite of what happened, and what happened was so much more in sync and spirit with the rest of the movie.
"Uncle John" is a quiet and subtle film, a beautiful in its own way indie drama. The goods it provides are good looks, subtly effective vibes and great performances. My rating: 7/10.