Directed by Eric England.
Starring Sophie Turner, Dylan McDermott, Kurt Fuller, Jack Kilmer and Robin Bartlett.
Hank, a solitary man living a dull existence in the sleepy, Southern town raises eyebrows when he develops a questionable relationship with Josie, a recently transplanted high school student.
Occasionally a film opens in a way that could make for an interesting and engaging character piece. Then things slowly (sometimes very slowly) descend into conventional thriller. If I review a film I have no prior knowledge of (Everyone knows an Avengers 4 is coming and vaguely certain of things that will happen…) then I tend to watch the film blind. I like to be surprised. I like to be taken on a journey and though it’s something we’ve covered in feature pieces, we live in an era where far too much of mainstream cinema is spoilt before we’ve even sat down to see it. From 20 trailers, to dozens of clips (that when pieced together, might as well be the whole film ), to stills, articles, and spoiler filled reviews and articles. We of course all have the option to look away, and increasingly, for anticipated films, I’m finding more enjoyment from going in as blind as possible.
So I get Josie to review. I sit down. We’re in the South. It’s all Southern drawls, whiskies and beers and a languid pace of life which sees the youngsters sourcing their entertainment wherever they can escape the adult gaze. Hank, a middle aged loner with a haunted past becomes infatuated with a mysterious high school girl who arrives in town and begins catching the eye of not only Hank, but Marcus (A stereotypically rebellious, troubled High School senior). The film opens with quiet compose and a suggestion of Hanks secret past. It invites the audience in to learn more, it’s well shot, the music is atmospheric, but then his character’s development within the picture slows, because the film turns into more of a pot-boiler. It kind of flits halfway between drama and thriller, never comfortable in either. It either needed to forget a tired, and frustratingly obvious thriller twist and stick to Drama, or infuse everything with a bit more noir style and more imaginative plotting. If you’re going to do a thriller with a sultry object of affection, yes it’s a little bit early 90’s, but you might as well go all out. Throw in more steam, more complication, more turns. Throw in a finale that doesn’t fizzle out.
The film isn’t without technical merits. It’s nicely shot as I said. Sterling work from director Eric England and cinematographer Zoe White on that front. I really liked the score from Raney Shockne too. The problem is, that proceedings are laboured and the significance of the ‘reveal’ is held back until the end, but as opposed to leading nicely to it, or even leading us up the garden path before pulling the rug out from under us, England et al, unfortunately lose the audience before then.
The cast are good. They’re ready, willing and able to give something, but they’re just not given quite enough material to work with, whilst Hank’s (Dylan McDermott) arc in particular feels undercooked. There’s a protagonist shift as we begin on Hank, and shift to Josie (Sophie Turner) but she’s deliberately enigmatic. It’s what the film wants to rest on, the fact we’ll not know her intentions until the end. We’re just not given enough to maintain our interest for that length of time (even at a short 90 minutes).
Ultimately, Josie never quite succeeds as a thriller, nor a drama. It will find it difficult to grab a willing audience looking for either. Despite the talent of the cast and technical crew, ultimately there’s just not enough engagement to spread out over 90 minutes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has three features due out on DVD/VOD in 2019 and a number of shorts hitting festivals. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see… http://tomjolliffe.wordpress.com/films/