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Broken Mile
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by Charles Tatum

"One-Take It or Leave It"
3 stars

Writer/director/cameraman Justin McConnell goes the Alfred Hitchcock/"Rope" route, presenting a thriller purportedly filmed in one shot without edits (although a little research online reveals that wasn't the case).

Shaun (Francesco Filice) wakes up in a pool of his own sick in a bathtub, stumbles out into a living room, and finds his girlfriend Sarah (Lea Lawrynowicz) dead of a drug overdose. He panics and runs, with his best friend and Sarah's real paramour Kenny (Patrick McFadden) hot on his heels (armed with a pistol). Shaun flees to former girlfriend Amy's (Caleigh Le Grand) apartment, and the two find themselves running around a rainy Toronto avoiding Kenny, who "just wants to talk."

Going the "real time" route must be hell on a filmmaker. The logistics alone send your mind reeling. McConnell avoids this by employing seamless edits to make the audience think they are watching the story in literal real time (and the edits, however many there are, are seamless- I didn't spot one!). "Rope" worked because the intensity of an unbroken ten minute take (before a laughable transition shot on a performer's back) cranked up the tension of the story, and the actors' over-the-top performances. In "Broken Mile," the fine performances are there, and McConnell's off-kilter script and characterization is evident, too. He did a documentary called "Skull World," which immersed the viewer in another off-kilter person's life. Shaun is no hero, you will wish he would just answer Amy's questions about exactly what happened before he came to her for help. McFadden is fine, McConnell succeeds in making a minivan (of all things) actually menacing. Le Grand seems to be the center of attention in the film, and holds her own, showing us why Amy is drawn to these men and the pathetic turns their lives have taken.

Obvious budget constraints abound here. This is a thriller, but not an action-packed one. The change of point of view during the film, from Shaun to Kenny to Amy, is nifty, but then McConnell hits you with an overly long scene of Amy driving to a rendezvous point with Shaun...and driving and driving and driving. There are a couple of red herrings thrown into the film that makes you think McConnell was going to pick up the speed and suspense, but they didn't amount to anything. The climax is rife with black comedic moments, and I wish the previous seventy-five minutes had played on that as well. You really want to knock some sense into these characters, and McConnell's camerawork makes you believe you are right there with them. The musical score is great, but the sound mix on the DVD gets extremely loud at a few points depending on where the microphone was being directed.

"Broken Mile" is an interesting film. McConnell is a known low-budget film maker in Canada, and I wish he would be able to break into a larger budget, if only to see what his imagination could bring us.

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originally posted: 09/01/17 08:06:56
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  04-Aug-2017 (NR)
  DVD: 15-Aug-2017



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