Written and Directed by Andrew Brotzman.
Starring David Call, Richard Bekins, Liam Aiken, Haviland Morris, Rachel Brosnahan, Danny Burstein, Geary Smith and Emory Cohen.
A young and inexperienced priest encourages a family to declare their long-missing son dead, but once they do, the boy mysteriously returns, testing the priest’s commitment to church doctrine over the laws of the natural world.
Andrew Brotzman’s Maine-set drama Nor’easter is perhaps too glacial for its own good, with the pleasingly wintry photography matching the deliberate pacing. It has secrets buried under its icy surface – much like Liam Aiken’s young teen Josh, who rocks up at home after running away five years previous – but I won’t reveal them here. For uncovering the mystery of Josh’s whereabouts in the interim is Nor’easter’s key pleasure. With largely colourless performances and safe direction, it’s one of the few things to keep Nor’easter from being anything other than middle-of-the-road.
Centred on conflicted priest Erik (David Call), who takes up residency in a quiet town after years of having his prayers unanswered by God, Nor’easter says surprisingly little about crisis of faith within the church. Call is such a blank screen presence that it’s hard to care too much. More interesting is the dynamic between Josh and his strange friend Paul (Danny Burstein), which takes the film into altogether more disturbing territory. It’s the only relationship in the film which has any believability, adding presumably intentional creepy undertones.
At 85 minutes, backed by an ominous, violin-heavy score, Nor’easter accomplishes far too little despite its intentions. It’s clear to see that Brotzman’s film was supposed to ask complicated questions about family and the lessening power of religion in America, but there’s just not enough feeling to convey it on a visceral level. The tension of Josh’s second disappearance in the latter stages of the film is better than the slow first half, and the finale is suitably grim. I just would rather it wasn’t so chilly.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Brogan Morris – Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the young princes. Follow Brogan on Twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion.