Friday, January 31, 2020

Sundance with Abe: The Evening Hour

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the seventh time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can, as well as video reviews uploaded to YouTube.

The Evening Hour
Directed by Braden King
U.S. Dramatic Competition

Living in a small town means that most people know each other, and secrets don’t usually get kept for long. In most cases, that which isn’t discussed or acknowledged is still known, permitted to occur because there are those who see the benefits along with few advantages of causing problems for others. Drug dealing is one such poorly-kept secret, with those who aren’t serving as customers keeping what they know to themselves either because they don’t want to bring trouble upon their own homes or because they know that whatever might replace it could be worse.

Cole (Philip Ettinger) lives in the mountains of West Virginia, where he works as an aide at a nursing home. He also buys and sells prescription pills all around town, making sure never to take from his day job and steering clear of Everett (Marc Menchaca), an ex-convict who traffics in hard drugs. When an old friend, Terry (Cosmo Jarvis), comes back to town looking to get into the drug business, Cole’s life becomes infinitely more complicated as he juggles his unpredictable girlfriend (Stacy Martin), a new romantic interest (Kerry Bishe), and the return of his absent mother (Lili Taylor).

This film is best described as a slow-burn dramatic thriller, presenting its events calmly and building tension and suspense as it becomes clear just how out of control Cole’s situation has become. He’s very well-liked and highly regarded in town, and the web of characters are so closely interconnected that his work colleague is dating a cop, putting the law just a short distance from him at all times. He’s also someone who does whatever he can for others, something that Terry knows and aims to utilize so that he can achieve what he wants. Cole’s kindness is his own undoing, and he knows that he’s the one who will have to clean up this mess.

Ettinger is a decent lead, and he’s well-supported by strong turns in the supporting cast from Jarvis, Martin, Bishe, Menchaca and Michael Trotter, who portrays Cole’s closest confidante and the comic relief of the film. This story feels familiar in many ways, but the pacing, cinematography, and specific plot help to set it apart and make it worthwhile. This feels like an immersive journey into a community far from big cities, where the things people do to stave off boredom can have dire consequences, as conveyed in this dark story.


1 comment:

Jamaica said...

Oh, Ettinger is *far* more than "decent". He is emotionally everything that Cole is supposed to be, in the way that Cole expresses himself. I find it frustrating that such a fine actor's work is not recognized for the excellence that is brought to it. Far too often, even among critics, let alone casual movie fans, the only roles that are praised are the ones that jump off the page, even before an actor is brought in to play it. Passive roles, like that of Cole, are rarely appreciated for the subtle and accurate, and meticulous work that it takes to build them.