A Proper Violence (Cinema Epoch, NR)

It embraces its nature as a genre film rather than trying to be more than it is. It also has a real do-it-yourself vibe, understandable given that it was shot in 17 days.

 

 

A Proper Violence wastes no time establishing the tense, brooding atmosphere that is its greatest strength. The central character, Morgan Edwards (Randy Spence), presents the textbook case of the troubled loner with his shaggy haircut and grimly silent manner, accentuated by the menacing glances he casts from beneath his black hoodie. That he lives in a rooms-by-the-week motel and cooks his steaks directly on the electric burner only magnifies this impression, although it’s not clear whether the purchase of a pan is beyond his limited means or if the idea is simply too conventional for him to bother with. His interactions with other human beings are limited and fleeting, although playing somewhat against expectations this seems not entirely his preference.

Atmosphere can go a long way toward making a film work—just ask any fan of Val Lewton—but it works best when the audience is not distracted by distractingly sloppy storytelling. Since the effectiveness of A Proper Violence depends largely on the unfolding of a mystery I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but the basic setup is that Morgan was recently released from prison and is trying to put his life back together. However, some affected by his crime decide that the punishment delivered by the law was not enough and that it’s up to them to address this imbalance of justice. There’s some sex and lots of violence (particularly in the finale) and whether it’s worth your time or not depends mainly on how much you like this type of film. It’s an okay first film and produces the expected thrills of the revenge genre, but it’s hardly must-see viewing if that’s not your particular cup of tea.

The press kit for A Proper Violence carries the emblem of the March√© du Film, the business end of the Cannes Film Festival and the largest film market in the world, and that’s the key to understanding this film. It embraces its nature as a genre film rather than trying to be more than it is. It also has a real do-it-yourself vibe, understandable given that it was shot in 17 days and Chris Faulisi and Matt Robinson seem to have done nearly everything related to it: they are listed as co-writers, co-directors and producers, and Faulisi is also credited with cinematography and editing. Judging from this sample of one they’re more gifted as directors than writers and I’d like to see what they could do with a better script. This one has a promising premise but doesn’t concern itself too much with plausibility or with dialogue that is even minimally credible.

Faulisi’s cinematography shows a nice eye for color and the music by Timothy Falzone goes a long way toward establishing the desired mood for each scene. On the DVD I reviewed dialogue was occasionally distorted and sometimes overshadowed by ambient sound in the outdoor scenes. DVD extras include a featurette documenting the Los Angeles premiere (3 min.) and a stills gallery. | Sarah Boslaugh

 

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