Directed by Joselito Seldera
Starring Blaise Miller, Claire Gordon-Harper, Kyle Sing, Jake McClean, Paul Dillon
Indie Film Review by Andrew Galvin
While a disaster for many, many people, the economic downtown of the last decade has been a goldmine for American indie cinema. The likes of Margin Call have tackled the credit crunch head on, but the best examples have used it as a backdrop and focused on the effect upon the little man—people in smaller areas of the country, struggling to get by: see the likes of Winter’s Bone and Manchester By The Sea. Both films are a visible influence over End of Fall, the new film from Joselito Seldera.
We meet down-on-his-luck farmer Jackson (Blaise Miller), a schlubby, Casey Affleck-alike father, informed by his neighbour in the opening scene that his home and his land are going to be taken away from him.
It’s an enticing opening: suggesting a story populated by real people in recognisable situations. The film around them follows suit—the tone and cinematography are subdued in washed-out colours, the soft piano and guitar score sits low in the mix, and the young members of the cast talk like they’re in a Bruce Springsteen song. The central relationship between Jackson and his daughter, Emily (Claire Gordon-Harper on astonishing form) helps ground things too, as their chemistry is compelling. When End of Fall is at its quietest and most still, this is a film that sails a hair’s breadth away from being a masterpiece.
As the film develops, however, the machinations of the story prove to be less effective. Swerving away from the likes of Derek Cianfrance and Kenneth Lonergan, the presence of a dead body and a suspicious police chief aim more towards early Hitchcock. Despite the build-up of tension being effective, it feels like an unnecessary movement towards occasional melodrama that sits uneasily with the tone of the film. This is exacerbated by Kyle Sing, as Jackson’s rival. He delivers an odd performance throughout, all bulging eyes and questionable changes in pitch and volume—whether fault lies with director or actor is unclear, but either way it is distracting.
In the end though, none of these factors succeed in unseating the film’s atmosphere. This is unhurried filmmaking very near its pinnacle. While not quite at the level of quality of its influences, this has real depth thanks to its economic and gun control subtexts; a small picture deserving of the widest possible audience.