Tuesday, June 28, 2011
REVIEW: MISSING PIECES
WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY KENTON BARTLETT
STARS: MARK BOONE, JR., MELORA WALTERS, DANIELA HASSEL AND TAYLOR ENGEL
2 ½ OUT OF 4 STARS
The Story: A man at a crossroads in his life following a catastrophic car accident that has left him mentally and emotionally changed tries to put his life back together again.
Writer/Director Kenton Bartlett’s first time attempt at making a feature film offers far more positive than negative and provides indications that he is a talent to be watched in the next few years. Bartlett has taken an intriguing concept and has been fortunate enough to get a couple of solid professionals to lead his cast. Made for less than $100,000, you’ll be amazed at what Bartlett has gotten on the screen. It looks like a much more expensive film.
The title of the film tells you what you upfront what the film’s focus will be. David Lindale is not the same man he was before the car accident that changed him. At the most immediate level, the film is focused on his attempt to replace or repair those missing pieces within himself. Beyond that, however, you find that all four of the central characters have “missing pieces” and those absent “pieces” are revealed through the process David uses to attempt to fix himself and inadvertently the other characters that inhabit his world.
One reviewer has likened Bartlett’s style to the approach that Christopher Nolan used in “Memento.” I think it’s much more like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s style in “Babel” and “21 Grams.” Disjointed and temporally non-sequential, the framing and editing choices work very well to act as an underscore to the emotional and psychological challenges that David is facing.
It doesn’t all work, though. I had questions about the location shooting that (for me at least) made geographically little sense. I recognized some of the locales and the characters’ access to them strained credibility. On the upside, the locations looked great on film…some very nice exterior even beautiful shots pepper the film.
Additionally, plot developments just seem to come too easily and glibly without what I would judge the kind of strife that they would engender. Also, David’s skill set to make the things happen that he needs or wants to happen, while necessary to moving the story forward, seem difficult to believe.
In the featured role of David Lindale, Bartlett has long time character actor Mark Boone, Jr. Boone, Jr. has a long, long resume as primarily a heavy in any number of films. He’s perhaps most recognizable from his continuing role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” but he also has a lengthy list of feature film credits as well including roles in: “Frozen River,” “30 Days of Night,” “Batman Begins,” and (perhaps tellingly) “Memento.” It’s refreshing to see the big man get a chance to act in a character context that we are not accustomed to seeing from him and Boone, Jr. pulls it off well. It’s a sharp performance in a challenging role.
Also featured is Melora Walters who is best known for the role of Claudia Gator in Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant 1999 “Magnolia” and her recurring role on HBO’s “Big Love.” Walters plays Boone Jr.’s estranged girlfriend and is one of the titular “missing pieces”. Walters is fine here. Her character provides the necessary impetus for the plot that forms the basis of the film. One wish-that she had had more to do, more presence in the film. I would have liked to have seen more of her.
Rounding out the main cast are Daniel Hassel and Taylor Engel as Daylen and Maggie (Magnolia is the character’s full name in a shout out from Bartlett to PT Anderson) both of which are making their feature film debut. Both of the novices turn in surprisingly well rounded performances.
But it’s Boone, Jr. performance that is the glue that holds the film together and makes you want to stay with his journey.