Directed by Dominic Pelosi
Written by Andrew Pelosi
Starring Darrell Hoffman, Louise Vansleve, Pamela Eagleson, Ken Welsh
In the online age, it seems an impossible idea for a video to last more than ten minutes before the viewer decides to pause it or skip to another one. Target Fascination runs at nearly 72 minutes, and I didn’t stop it once.
Joe (Darrell Hoffman) is an elderly ex-convict, released after a twenty-year sentence for the rape and murder of a young woman. Through an unlikely turn of events, Joe’s enigmatic therapist (Ken Welsh) arranges a meeting between Joe and his victim’s family – in order to forgive his actions and accept him as a changed man.
There is a philosophical idea underlining this film, which promotes forgiveness of those seeking repentance – thus easing the souls of all involved. The Pelosi brothers attempt to teach us this idea: that anybody, no matter what they’ve done, can be forgiven and accepted. The problem is that only a select clutch of liberal-minded individuals would welcome the complete absolution of a rapist-murderer – fracturing the possibility of a wider audience. It is fine that the premise is absurd, but Target Fascination seems more concerned with promoting this philosophy than the characters and their stories.
Saying this, the characters are more alluring than many other indie films. There is enough focus on each of them to warrant our empathy and the connection between the four characters is tense – particularly when they are all gathered around a dinner table. There are moments in the film when motivations aren’t entirely clear. For example, there is a scene where Caroline (Pamela Eagleson), the mother of the victim, agrees to pay for a prostitute for Joe. Even though the approach is surreal and compelling, the casual reactions aren’t believable.
Andrew Pelosi is able to construct scenes that force our attentive gaze, but there are times when the dialogue breaks it. In the opening scene, Joe visits his brother Shane (Robin Royce Queree) after leaving prison. Shane cannot forgive Joe for what he’s done and he reveals Joe’s crime for the benefit of the audience - three times in three minutes. “You raped and murdered a young woman” becomes repetitive and possesses less punch than it should do. Rape and murder are thunderbolt topics, which only need to strike once to create impact.
It might have also been wise of Pelosi to move the rape-murder reveal to the dinner table scene, midway through the film, where Joe describes his crime in detail to the victim’s family. This way, we are able to empathise with Joe as a person in the present rather than a murderer in the past.
Dominic Pelosi’s digital cinematography, though imperfect, works for the story he’s telling. Its faultiness brings a surreal and psychological quality to the film – reminding one of David Lynch’s Inland Empire and the Dogme 95 movies. The intentions are unclear, but it seems natural within the context of the story.
This is not a great indie film, by any means, but better than most. In spite of the silly storyline and unsatisfying climax, Dominic Pelosi has made a film with characters gripping enough to pull us into the story – and our cursors away from the Pause button.