Monday, June 29, 2015
'Still' DVD: Compelling Character Study of Innocent Victim of Savage Teen
The sense that independent films that are being released theatrically and on DVD in June 2015 are directed at your (sometimes humble) reviewer continues with the June 30, 2015 DVD release of the 2014 British drama "Still."
This exceptional character study of a man who recently suffered a tragic loss only to have a feral teen boy target him after a harmless random encounter is the latest entry in the spectacular (mostly foreign) Film of the Month Club that the equally great (and awesomely expanding) media company Film Movement operates. The good news is that non-members can also purchase this film, which Movement is releasing through the new Omnibus Entertainment division of that company.
Accolades for "Still" include winning the award for "Best International Film First Feature" at the Galway Film Fleadh and the "Festival Prize" at the London Independent Film Festival.
Although "Still" breaks from the Movement tradition of including a "Why We Love This Film" essay, it is almost certain that such prose would start with commenting on the artistry of writer/director Simon Blake in making this film seem like a live stage production and go onto comment on the universal themes of the film. The aforementioned personal experience this time relates to becoming the focus of years of terrorism by a savage 15 year-old boy for no reason other than that excitable boy "smells" weakness. The spot-on depiction of this inter-generational bullying in "Still" includes the realization that society is ill-equipped to deal with such "beasts."
The innocently tormented man in "Still" is photographer Tom Carver, whom Aidan Gillen of "The Game of Thrones" and "The Wire" has down pat, who is recovering from both the accidental death of his 15 year-old son and the impact of that tragedy on various relationships. Tom runs afoul of teen Carl merely by committing the sin of inadvertently occupying the exact spot that that boy desires at that moment and compounding that "transgression" by not expressing any remorse.
The circumstances that make this dynamic relatable are having the family from Hell (which shares a common outer entrance to our 2,000 sf townhouses in a nice section of a "resort" community) move in right next door. Suffice it to say that the sin here relates to trying to prevent the "wild dog" from marking my "territory" as his own.
Another real-world example of this brutality by America's future dates back roughly 40 years. A wonderfully kind and generous family who had recently emigrated from Portugal opened a terrific Portuguese bakery only to have hoodlums plague them by regularly climbing on their roof to steal the Portuguese flag that held tremendous symbolic value. The Portuguese husband ultimately shot one of the perpetrators, only to find himself at the wrong end of the law.
The torment that Carl inflicts on Tom, whose options for effectively "working within the system" are very limited, increases from intimidating behavior that includes constantly leaving heavy breathing messages on the answering machine for Tom's landline to a violent physical attack. Suffice it to say this time that this escalation reflects the course of the real-life events referred to above. As "Still" shows, these thugs simply amp up their torture until effectively told no.
The truisms in "Still" include the conclusion that any police involvement will be ineffective. This realization contributes to a vigilante effort that will make anyone who has suffered at the "paws" of a wolf boy cheer. The attitude of such a creature on being confronted additionally is true to form.
The only flaw regarding all this is that the drama occasionally strays into "melo" territory, especially near the end of the film. The intensity of the emotions during this period explains this, and the rest of the production more than compensates for it.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Still" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.