Friday, October 31, 2014

imagineNATIVE Film Festival Film Review - Among Ravens

Joey (Johnny Sequoyah) is seated in the passenger seat of her mother Wendy's (Amy Smart) jeep as they head to their lakefront house for Fourth of July weekend.  10 year old Joey clutches her little bird book and begins to tell the story of the Raven. It was the most beautiful bird as legend has it but due to its arrogance and attitude it was stripped of it's most beautiful colours and left only with black. Joey pronounces Ravens as evil and that her family is made up of a group of Ravens.

Shortly thereafter we meet the rest of her family and mother's friends. Ellis her mother's second husband who Joey refers to as provider daddy who doesn't work and relies on his trust fund. Her dad Saul (played by co director Russel Friedenberg) a best settling author with billboard around town announcing his new book. Saul's new wife Emma (Victoria Smurfit) plus stuck in the 60's nomad Hal and his new 20 something girlfriend Saturn.

Into the setting wonders Chad (Will McCormack) a friend of Fourth of July weekend regular Jay who wants to borrow Chad's truck and leaving him at the country house. Right off the bat it's evident that Chad has a mental issue. He is also obsessed with birds and taking nature photographs which leads him to be fast friends with Joey.

The directors Frienderberg and Randy Redroad have made an attempt at the annual weekend outing with a quirky interloper the that does not work. The dialogue is pedestrian, characters stereotypical and climatic twists telegraphed from the opening moments of the film.

Cinematographer  Darren Genet does admirable work capturing the big sky and lush landscapes of McCall, Idaho. The presentations of hawks soaring though the air and vast still lakes backed by majestic mountains and trees are the highlights of the film.

In the end the film fails as just about all the characters are unlikeable leaving the audience with no one to identify with or root for with co director and writer Russel Friendenberg being the worst of the lot. The production attempts to bring across the point that the naive and forthright are too fragile for this world but the point is lost in the muddle of plain words and stale actions of the cast.  Family and friends coming together for an annual weekend is a recurring subject in film. Among Ravens ventures into the genre without success.

* 1/2 out of 4.

Among Ravens | Russell Friedenberg /Randy Redroad | U.S.A. | 2014|  103 Minutes.

Tags; Vacation Home | 4th of July Weekend | Trust Fund | Idaho | Mental Illness | Birding.

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