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dir Jeremy Kagan
scr Will Lambom, Anneke Campbell
prd Jeremy Kagan, Dave O'Brien, Josh Siegel
with Noah Wyle, Sharon Leal, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Cher Ferreyra, Rafael Cebrian, Xander Berkeley, Elaine Hendrix, Jesse Socorro Montes, Joy Osmanski, Brad Lee Wind, Maria Russell, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
release US 22.Sep.17
One bullet, three lives: Wyle
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Unfolding mainly in real time, this straightforward thriller explores two sides of a gunshot: the young guy who inadvertently pulls the trigger and the passer-by who is hit. Both halves of the film develop through a variety of twists and turns, played with raw urgency by the actors. It may sometimes feel like an advisory film about gun violence, and there are some melodramatic moments, but it has a riveting sense of authenticity.
In Los Angeles, bullied 17-year-old Miguel (Lendeborg) gets a gun from his cousin (Cebrian), but it goes off accidentally. The bullet hits Mark (Wyle), a film sound mixer whose therapist wife Phoebe (Leal) is divorcing him. She accompanies him to hospital, as paramedics and then emergency room doctors work to save his life. He remains conscious through this, worrying about both his marriage and whether he'll walk again. Meanwhile, a horrified Miguel is on the run, hiding from the police and trying to figure out what to do with the gun.
Director Kagan uses split screen to follow Mark and Miguel on their separate journeys, creating an edgy tone that adds suspense to both strands. Things move very quickly, as Mark's doctors and nurses conduct a variety of procedures and tests, all while Miguel seeks help from anyone he can think of. Attempts to weave in flashbacks are a little odd, appearing as hallucinatory projections above Mark. But they offer a hint of his internal journey.
There's some nice irony to Wyle playing an ER patient, and the role is surprisingly layered, as he struggles to cope with his potentially serious injuries as well as the complexity of his collapsing marriage. It's a full-on performance that's engaging and often harrowing in its relentlessness, echoing emotionally in Leal's expressive reactions. And Lendeborg has terrific presence as a young man terrified that his life may be over as well.
The script takes several swipes at gun control, which is already obvious in a story about a random gunshot injury, and there are some further preachy touches (stay in school! don't stare at the disabled!). More resonant are the marital strain between Mark and Phoebe, as well as Miguel's feeling of helplessness. And just as the medical details begin to feel overwhelming, the film jumps five months ahead to explore the longer-term fallout of the event, touching on notions of guilt, faith and courage. And this is where it gets under the skin.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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