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Friday, July 7, 2017

Grief (2017) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After the death of his son, a man becomes increasingly unhinged as he attempts to commit suicide.

Review: Full disclosure: this review was requested, however, I will, of course, be totally honest in my opinion. As with "Wichita," this film is indie--so indie to the point that the lead actor, Kevin Renwick, also serves as writer and director. Now, I'll give credit where credit is due and commend Mr. Renwick's efforts. Unfortunately, I don't believe the story trying to be conveyed was achieved properly. The biggest problem is in regard to the tonal shifts that come out of nowhere. One minute there is an effort to put forth a thought-provoking look at depression, however, these scenes will suddenly shift, inexplicably, into outright zany antics. It's like making a romcom that cuts to random bouts of a gritty crime thriller without any real acknowledgement. It's a shame because I think the material could have been compelling if taken in a more philosophical direction.

Most of the cinematography is competent enough with a few decent tricks I can appreciate. Likewise, the actors turn in respectable performances. The aforementioned Mr. Renwick does carry the film, and he's believable enough in the role. When the story stays on topic, I can see it affecting some audiences in the way I believe the filmmakers intended; for me, I was stone cold the whole time--absolutely no emotional reaction, sad to report. With those positives said, it's extremely hard to ignore the negatives. Those tonal shifts completely take you out of the story and add nothing. If anything, they contradict the narrative at hand since we see a character go from low to high energy on a whim which is not how a depressed person would be moments before trying to kill themselves. More so, these scenes come off as filler to help transition between plot tangents which is not needed. Going a step further, the story fails to deliver in a satisfying way since the actual suicide is anticlimactic if you're trying to invoke a strong resonance with the audience. Those comedic scenes will end up endearing a viewer to the character and you'll want to see him recover and not die. Then we have this nonsensical subplot about a storage unit and its mysterious contents. Well keep guessing, because we never find out what that's all about. A better approach to the material would have been to create a scenario similar to "Falling Down" where these zany antics are building up to the suicide rather than making that the primary motivation for the events themselves.

All things considered, "Grief" is an okay film that is salvaged by a polished look and an admirable cast and crew. The core themes of the story are nothing original but held potential especially in regards to the nihilistic questioning of why are things the way they are. However, the tonality is a mess with sporadic, comedic scenes popping up out the blue. In turn, these scenes also become counter-intuitive to the subject matter, eating up an already short running time. A greater exploration of the themes of love, loss, depression, the meaning of life, etc. are completely overshadowed in the process and an unsatisfying conclusion does not help the final impression. I can't really recommend "Grief" for general entertainment purposes, but I could recommend it to other indie crews in how to create a solid looking film without Hollywood backing.

Notable Moment: Well, obviously, those comedic interludes stand out like a sore thumb. So...the most ridiculous would be when Kyle becomes high while trying to overdose. How am I supposed to take the material seriously--and the themes are intended to be heavy shit--when there are scenes like this?

Final Rating: 5/10

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