Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Retrieval

The year is 1864.
In the dead of night, a young Black teen, apparently a runaway slave, knocks on the door of a farmhouse and is met by a white lady with a shotgun who leads him to the barn. Cannons boom in the distance. Once inside, he settles down among a few other Blacks for the night.

It's not what it seems...
While the others sleep, the young teen slips out and reports to a group of  bounty hunters who descend upon the homestead, torch the barn and lead the human contents away in chains.

In the next scene, we see the boy Will (Ashton Sanders) and his 'uncle' Marcus (Keston John) receiving a few coins for their work and then being sent northward to lure in another subject to the bounty hunters, a Freeman named Nate (Tishuan Scott).
If they succeed they will be rewarded with a huge sum, enough for them to go far away and begin a  new life. Refuse, or fail, and they will be hunted down and killed.

It's a beautifully filmed piece of work, properly spaced so that the story moves along freely without getting bogged down. My biggest beef is with whoever was in charge of make up.
Shot in digital, a benefit when it comes to scenic beauty, is not a good thing when filming facial close ups. This is a slave population we are dealing with here and facial complexions should not be this clean and smooth. And who the hell thought the freshly bic'd head and pierced ear of Keston John (who looked like he could have just walked of the streets of West Los Angeles with his posture and delivery) fit the period? Or the finely manicured eyebrows of a runaway slave woman?

Two real highlights belong to Sanders and Scott.
Sanders' 'Will' looked natural as a young, confused, daring and scared teen, the weight of his fucked up life heavy on his shoulders. He's been beaten down so hard he doesn't even notice it, just plodding on, taking it as it comes, trying to get to the next day. I couldn't help but feel affection for the kid, despite the evils he was willingly pressed into.
Scott's 'Nate' carries himself with an air of well placed confidence. A man who's survived his share of struggles yet never lets his guard down. He lives a life of fear, too, but won't let that stop him, having earned his place on this earth.

Though set in the Civil War and involving slaves, this story is not about either topic. It's a tale of hard choices during times of confusion and chaos, where right and wrong may not be a choices at all when the compass never points to True North.

If you're looking for a feel good movie, this is not it. If you want a good movie with feeling, go for it.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Sounds interesting. Not my kind of movie I suspect. But I'm glad you're back in the game.

my name is Amanda said...

This is so indie that I haven't even heard of it. :) AND it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Sounds good, though. Thanks for the arty film heads-up!

Gino said...

"This is so indie that I haven't even heard of it. :) AND it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page."

i take that as a compliment. i've often stated that i tend to enjoy the films that others havent seen, but its not a from intended effort on my part. not trying to be arty cool, but i'll take it.
just that things catch my eye, and i go.
while stuff like 'Godzilla' rarely seem to attract me.