Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Repentance: Movie Review

A psychological thriller undone with philosophical pretense and unsympathetic characters.

Tommy Carter (Anthony Mackie) is a successful self-help author/life coach/spiritual advisor who is still tied to his blue-collar past. "Repentance" opens with a tragic car accident that Tommy is responsible for. Angel Sanchez (Forest Whitaker) is a blue-collar construction worker still reeling from the death of his mother with severe psychological issues leaving his current life in ruin. He insists that Tommy and only Tommy will help him. 2013

Directed by: Philippe Caland

Screenplay by: Shintaro Shimosawa
Based on film by Philippe Caland

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Forest Whitaker

The connection between Tommy and Angel is obvious because there has to be one and there’s only one thing that the film has shown us in “tantalizing” flashbacks. Angel is very unstable and I think the question of why is he going after Tommy is supposed to drive the film forward, but that’s answered with the obvious connection and the fact that Angel is severely unstable – do people like that really need a reason?

The lack of intrigue in Tommy and Angel’s relationship is the first major obstacle. The second of which is the set-up for a psychological thriller stand-off between these two men quickly degenerates into a violent, physical stand-off and the more interesting thriller becomes a horror. It’s not straight-up horror, the only supernatural element is restricted to the mind of one character, and there is no damsel in distress. It’s just two grown men, both of whom have gotten themselves where they are, and they’ll have to get themselves out.

The getting themselves out of the mess could have been good if it wasn’t so ridiculously violent and if the characters were more sympathetic. Anthony Mackie did a great job with Tommy – this person who must straddle difficult circumstances on a daily basis and has done so within his own life, and truly believes what he writes, depending on where you stand with semantics. But Tommy feeds this constant BS of Eastern philosophical theories; any genuine bone in his body was probably broken with that opening car crash.

Angel Sanchez is worse. He demands Tommy to own up to all of his Eastern philosophical BS, he does, but Angel still doesn’t believe him. And then Angel goes on with his worse fa├žade of a decent life.

“Repentance” has great production value, an excellent all black cast, and even a good set-up, but unsympathetic characters, put into a ridiculous situation, and then trying to undo their actions with ridiculous philosophical BS quickly undoes most of what the film had going for it.

Similar Titles:

Favor (2013) - A character-driven thriller with universal characters debating success, friendship and murder.

Cottage Country (2013) - Horror meets romantic comedy in a strange, off-beat mix.

Trance (2013) - Twisting straight away from reality and into ridiculous nonsense.