Indie Film Review “Blood On The Leaves”

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WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

First, the Recap:

When you proclaim you really know someone, how true is that? We witness so many comings and goings of countless people throughout our lives, and so often make our own ideas as to who they are, based on factors that can be very much less than flattering or acceptable. But how can we say we know a stranger, when we’ve never even met them, never known their life, never known their struggles and victories, never looked beyond the surface. City Boy (Imani Khiry) has known trouble much of his life. Now, in the aftermath of a highly emotional and fatal decision, he finds himself in the crosshairs of his neighborhood’s kingpin, Jamal (Carl Clemons) and his lackey street thug, Rio (Brendon Taylor), who desire what’s theirs back, despite City Boy’s angered protestations of innocence.

Knowing he needs to bury a literal and proverbial body to rectify the situation, City Boy drives to an old abandoned logging area outside of Philadelphia to dispose of the evidence when a freak, yet natural, occurrence takes place, immobilizing City Boy. Meanwhile, a local hunter (Bill Nally), fresh off of arguing with his wife (Cindy Fernandez-Nixon) about their state of existence and how to improve it, comes to the scene after hearing the noise, only to make a bad choice in finding not only City Boy, but more so what he was attempting to bury. With City Boy’s gun now drawn with deadly intent, the two find themselves at a stalemate, the hunter wanting to get help, but City Boy’s fear of being caught keeping things where they stand. Soon, only time, a test of wills, logical conclusions, and a willingness to learn about one another can determine the final outcome.

Next, my Mind:

Carrying a strong, socially-oriented message about the dividing lines between race, base impressions, preconceptions we have about others, and the openness to listen and understand another individual’s perspectives in order to gain better understanding, writer/director/producer/editor Vincent Barnard’s no holds barred drama is steeped in illustrating many of the personal conflicts we face today via the verbal interactions of two men thrust into circumstances neither desires nor anticipates good tidings from. With its gritty writing, potent narrative, and smartly executed cinematography, the viewer is drawn into this standoff between men from two totally different realms of lifestyle, attitudes, choices, creeds, and color, yet similar in more ways than they realize. The exploration of what it is to so blatantly stereotype then ultimately find out the depth of heart, soul, dreams, and commonality in another person anchors the effort to superb effect.

In a very plausible, eloquent, coherent manner, the two primary actors, Sherfield and Nally, encompass their respective roles with poise and intention. Khiry’s’s strong-willed, street-wise, and guilt-ridden City Boy vs. Nally’s middle America, hard-working, down-on-his-luck hunter makes for some intense dynamics once brought together and immersed in their newly formed dilemma that causes each man to not just face off with each other, but to also take a long, hard look within themselves. The palpable tension generated as the two war against each other is realistic, perhaps even painfully so, in relation to true life issues being confronted in today’s turbulent and racially-charged atmosphere.  But it is in the midst of hostility that the burden of bearing their souls comes about, creating a bridge that spans the rift between them.  This is all enacted to excellent degree by both actors, and again, glues the tale together.

Solid supporting turns are presented by Taylor and Clemons as City Boy’s dogged pursuers, Fernandez-Nixon as the hunter’s wife who only wants to think practically about her and her husband’s troubles, plus Dallas White, Petra Bryant, and others round out satellite characters well utilized for key moments in the greater story. Overall, while distracted at times by the overabundance of harsh language throughout the film (something this reviewer doesn’t care for), “Blood On The Leaves” is an excellently filmed, deeply engaging, decidedly authentic look at the nature of how we as people treat each other and that through reflection and experience, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe in, we’re all simply and equally human.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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