As the year 2014 has come to its final day, what better way to go out than with multiple reviews posting, an interview posting, AND later on, the first annual Year In Review for OneFilmFan.com. So, to not beat around the proverbial bush anymore, I first bring you a review of an indie feature offered to me directly out of the blue by the Director themselves, asking for my opinion. Therefore, I give you exactly that for….”Rearview”.
SEE THE TRAILER HERE
The very first feature film project by Canadian writer/director Robert Gulassarian, the film wastes no time taking us into the apparently dysfunctional life of Fresno Phinx (played by ACTOR Fresno Phinx), who is suffering not only the results of the previous night’s drinking and other circumstances, but also with thoughts of suicide. Add to this the appearance at his home of “friend” Sonny (Lawrence Bill), a VERY crass and high strung Brit who simply comes to check up on Fresno, but also to ramble on and on about an apparent put-a-scare-into-turned-robbery job the two did for local crime lord, Francois “Demigo” Liotta,(Mark Grice), against his own son. In that event, an item was taken by the two that NOW Francois desires back. In the midst of all the chaos of this, Fresno seems to show he’s trying to find SOME semblance of normalcy, and upon a visit to a local gallery, runs into an old friend working there, Serafina (Alicia Kapudag), whom immediately wants to get together and catch up on Fresno’s life. As the two reconnect while back at Fresno’s home, Serafina happens upon the item taken and reveals it is actually worth a LOT of money. And moreso, as Serafina tries to get Fresno to open up more about his current “life”, he reveals a secret from his past that has hung over him, the results of which ultimately sent his life careening out of control. Constantly battling his inner demons, suicidal thoughts, and the added pressure from Francois to have the item returned to him, Fresno consistently reflects upon what a total mess his life IS, with Serafina being, literally, the ONLY positive influence he even has. But, when Serafina goes forward with an action intended to be a pleasant surprise for Fresno involving the item in question, it only causes things to get worse. When the attempt is made to correct the issue, Sonny and Fresno are taken by Francois and given an ultimatum. With Sonny wanting to flee town and Serafina inexorably getting drawn into the whole situation, Fresno only then begins to TRULY realize “the life” is NOT what he wants thanks to his time with Serafina, and makes a final choice to try and settle everything. But little does he know one aspect of the puzzle has been solved, and events lead to their conclusion with a calculated and harsh reality because of the decisions made. Further detail would constitute spoilers. Per usual…NO!
As with another first time director, micro-budget indie project I screened and reviewed several months ago (the Swedish offering “Amber (I Am My Own)” from Johan Bergqvist), the first thing needed is to LOOK PAST, at least, the budgetary element and look for what themes, etc, are really being addressed by the film itself. Such as I did going into this, I come out of it with mixed feelings, as I did ultimately with “Amber”. Given the understanding of where the character of Fresno is at in his life, the movie more than adequately illustrates a man whose very existence is pure chaos and hopelessness. The slow reveals of WHY he is in this place do come along as the tale progresses. You quickly ascertain that the events and people in Fresno’s life assuredly have been key in where he’s at, but then the reconnection with Serafina makes him even MORE conflicted about “the life”, though you can tell he STILL won’t let go. Sonny is an obvious hindrance to ANY attempts at going “normal” WITHOUT question, and his abrasive, cavalier attitude is really NOT welcome. Serafina is, as stated above, the ONLY presence in the story that brings ANY lightness and well-being, and her concerns for her lost friend are evident. But as always, it’s ultimately a harsh showing about the decisions we make, the consequences OF those choices, and not always realizing what we have right in front of us that’s saying “GET OUT! NOW!” The acting here is somewhat decent, I cannot be honest and say I was impressed by it, BUT I can let that slide, as I applaud the efforts and it was most certainly not the WORST I’ve seen in total. The most engaging performances if I HAD to choose would have been Fresno and the radiant Alicia Kapudag. I AM a stickler for certain types of content, especially language and certain sexual content, and viewers be warned, there is A TON of language present (and another scene I could have done without). This seriously distracted me to the point of almost wanting to stop watching. It’s my own thing, but again, going for honesty here. And the VERY dark tone of the film was grating on me quite a bit, as material like this has to be done in particular ways for me to say “I still liked it.” So, overall, I cannot honestly say this is a film I would watch again, and even MORE honestly, one I could personally recommend to most of my friends. It’s just not my OVERALL personal preference in style and tone of movie. But, as a first time film and from someone who genuinely has the heart to press on in this business and continue to MAKE films, I STILL give kudos to Robert Gulassarian, appreciate him asking me to take a look, and hope the honesty here is not discouraging, but rather the catalyst to keep exploring the possibilities.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading.