Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This Wretched Life: A Review

I recently watched This Wretched Life, an independent film with nine years of production under it's belt. The film deals with the concept that we all have monsters inside of us, expressed through different ways.

The film is framed through a self help-group and a psychiatrist whom the lead actor, Daniel Ball, as Chris meets with after coming to a personal low in his own life.

Frankie J. Mosca's film deals with this topic with some general ambition that is to be admired, and for a list of actors with first credits, I think some of these performers really do a fine job delivering, particularly the films lead Daniel Ball.

That being said, there were a handful of things that bothered me about this film. With a story that had some potential, I feel like Mosca's screenplay failed in that despite the variations in characters initial problems and monsters, the expression of these inner problems ultimately resulted in the same expressions of depravity, namely drugs, sex, and and explosive anger.

This uniform response takes away from the film, in a way that could be best served with some characters who served as stronger foils, because in the end this commonality led to a less than creative resolution.

Additionally, I felt like this film often went for an over-the-top style that really detracted from the film. I felt like the film was put together by a bunch of friends who through that the scenes of a mentally challenged man tearing a part a refrigerator was funny in it's over dramatisation, or that additions of a character with irritable bowels might make for some funny scenes. These inclusions and excessive performances made the film seem more amateur than it needed to.

Also, as a more general though, it seems to me that the more independent a film is, the more it feels compelled to lace the dialogue with heavy uses of profanity. I'm not sure if that's because younger film students feel that need to create an edgy dynamic with foul language, but this film is certainly no exception. It's heavy usage of swear words do not create the sense of reality, but rather create a sense that the actors are improving their lines and don't know what to say, so they revert to a string of uncreative dialogue laced with profanity.

Would I recommend this film to anyone? Probably not. I'm sure it has it's fans, but where the film shows promise in some of it's creative over arching themes, it fails in it's heavy handed portrayal and story-line that gets distracted between point A and B.

I think that Mosca probably learned a great deal in this project and if I were to make a recommendation to this film maker I would suggest that he stay focused in his story, he shows restraint in his heavy-handed dramaticism, and that he crafts a story that doesn't depend of profanity to put emotion into every line.

But I'm sure if Frankie Mosca makes another film, he will ignore this advise. The advise above is probably the same advise given the Quentin Tarantino's early work. But this film is distant from the work of Tarantino, but perhaps another attempt would show some growth.

I'm sure this is the last thing Mosca or the individuals involved in this film would want to hear, and that they write off these suggestions, because it is clear that this film is a work of love and that they feel they've put together something special. But it's almost too personal to the performers that it becomes inaccessible.

Pictured above, Daniel Ball from This Wretched Life.

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