Indie Film Review “Fractional”



First, the Recap:

The millstone of a burdened conscious. The sheer pressure of bearing within ones memory the hard realizations of choices made that had dire consequence. Yet, in this state of inward struggle, we attempt to push down these strains and stresses, that we quite literally find a notion to feel better about what we’ve done. But the past never forgets. Clinical psychiatrist John Hatchett (Desmond Daly) wakes to an unusual and certainly disconcerting reality. Tied to a chair in a large, warehouse-sized room, the only thing he can immediately take clear notice of is the single light shining on him and a table filled with less than encouraging implements of, most likely, torture and even more apparent, subsequent death.

Unable to free himself, John is ultimately joined by the calm-mannered David Crowe (Peter O’Toole), a highly disturbed and volatile man whose own revealed past with John is outed as a quietly sinister dialogue begins between them. In the midst of John’s adamant and angered protests, Crowe delves into instances from John’s past, ones that John initially denies vehemently. Soon, however, acknowledgement is the only decision John can make as Crowe’s utilization of tools both physically and mentally edged painfully wear his resistance down. As their conversation over days continues, with only brief respites from the pain, John’s own sins are slowly revealed, used to bitter ends and devilish entertainment by Crowe, all culminating in a shocking endgame that will determine both men’s futures.

Next, my Mind:

With its menacing, brooding tone and sense of constant foreboding, gritty visuals, and darkly twisted finale, writer/director/producer/cinematographer/editor Malcolm Deegan’s indie feature film effort is an effective, unapologetic, 93-minute journey down the dark roads of the human psyche that illustrates the instability of shattered expectations, the ramifications of buried secrets, and the bitterness of betrayal. We face a narrative that really deals with both men’s deeds, how they’ve been influenced by them, and the actions they chose to take to either rectify or justify them in their own minds. Once this all comes out between them, however, during a truly brutal 5-day experience formulated by Crowe, it becomes an even bigger study of exactly by what means they’ve dealt with, or are dealing with, their inner demons, each really trying to come to terms with it all and find a semblance of peace. It’s forced confession, though John’s path to this is much more traumatic and harrowing than for Crowe. The profanity-laced dialogue present here was a little off-putting, but there’s no getting past the very well shot visual presentation that makes even the large space they’re in seem frighteningly claustrophobic, even while the sound editing allows for a very effective echo in the room to be pronounced, becoming an additional factor that emphasizes the magnitude of events unfolding before us.

Daly is solid in his performance as Hatchett, a man waking up to a total nightmare and whose own secrets are about to be used against him in far more impactful ways than he would ever expect. His initial defiance in the face of the circumstances and when first confronting Crowe is totally understandable and realistic. But, by the time real agony, bodily and mentally, begins, it’s divulgences and lamentations of mistakes made, undisclosed truths, and hugely sobering revelations that break him. These dynamics continue throughout the period he’s at the mercy of Crowe, and Daly just nails it with seriously driven, taut, and engaging enactment of the character. O’Toole absolutely shines in his role as the manipulative, unhinged Crowe, a man with a chip on his shoulder when it comes to Hatchett’s role in his life personally, much less possessing the drive to make Hatchett’s life as miserable as possible via laying his soul bare and forcing him to admit his faults while finding out other aspects of his life were not everything he thought they were. Crowe’s demeanor–cool under pressure–is always oozing with intense yet unruffled, tightly wound, glowering intimidation, made even more scary when he actually does lose it in frustration or anger while interrogating or torturing Hatchett. He’s unstable evil personified, and O’Toole masters the nuances and intricacies of the character so overtly well.

The primary supporting turn arrives from Donna Bradley as Sarah Redmond, a young woman who has her own weighty issues that Hatchett had not only tried to cure, but also fell for her in the process.  But, Sarah’s place in the greater narrative is even more involved and vital than it seems, with secrets of her own to be brought to light, well played by Bradley.  Additional turns are present from Paul Byrne and Paula Gahan as well. In total, “Fractional” is one incredibly tense, purposefully dark, potently visual, and wonderfully character-driven indie effort that’s not for the faint of heart or those expecting a happy ending.  This is the shadowy recesses of the human mind as its challenged and pushed to its limits and beyond, hoping to keep its skeletons safely in the closet–or perhaps not.

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


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