Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scalene: Movie Review


Following three interesting characters until it loses its edge.

There are essentially three characters in “Scalene”. And with respect to the writers for their rather ingenious title, we can pretend there are three points of view. The first half of the film is spent with the mother, but mostly told backwards in time. She’s seeking justice and revenge for the incarceration of her mentally-handicapped son charged with rape. Then we hear from the son and then the abused girl herself.   2011

Directed by: Zack Parker

Screenplay by: Brandon Owens, and Zack Parker

Starring: Margo Martindale, Hannah Hall and Adam Scarimbolo

The mother, played by Margo Martindale, is stressed out to her wits ends and is trying to find someone who can understand what she’s going through trying to raise her brain-damaged son who can’t speak all on her own. The interesting part about her sequences was telling it in reverse. We first see her after the conviction, then immediately following the incident itself and then a number of scenes leading up to the incident. At this point, we have no idea what happened but it proved to be interesting enough that our curiousity was piqued and tension was high waiting for the big reveal.

Then we hear from the son, Jakob (Adam Scarimbolo), but of course he can’t speak. And based on the handful of random, bizarrely shot, meaningless scenes, we can assume he doesn’t understand much of the world around him.

Then comes the interesting part of the film – the victim’s sequences. Paige Alexander (Hannah Hall) is, at times, an average college student. She’s looking for a part time job, one that should advance her in her chosen career of social care. Young and inexperienced, Jakob’s mother hires her to take care of Jakob a couple of hours a week because she seems honest and caring. The similarly inexperienced actress Hannah Hall (who got her start as the “young Jenny” in “Forrest Gump”) will hopefully go far based on her powerful but extremely tender performance of a girl who was always just trying to figure out the right thing to do. And she more than held her own against the heavy-hitting Martindale.

Paige was an interesting character because she’s figuring out just as we are figuring out what is going on. She has a cold respect for her parents but can’t turn to them for help since they have lost touch with reality. Her friends haven’t experienced what she has experienced and would be unable to offer advice. Paige is strong and independent, but she’s forced into a situation where she’s scared and alone.

Unfortunately, the problems for “Scalene” come when some of the actions venture far from credible or realistic and sympathy for the characters is all of a sudden hard to come by. But worse is the editing, and/or acting, in the revenge scenes. Characters are hit over the head and fall down the stairs in such a cheesy and artificial manner that it resembles a super low-budget, unintentionally funny, ridiculously stupid horror movie. It is better than that, but only when we’ve connected to the characters and we’re following Paige waiting for the ultimate twist. Before and after that, the film loses some of its edge.