Directed by Miguel Garzon Martinez
Starring Michael Stahler, Marcos Esteves, Rayne Bidder, Justine Herron, & Oren Dyan
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Intriguing and subtle, indie film The Broken Legacy, directed by Miguel Garzon Martinez, is a lucid exploration of human frailty and the consequences of creating relationships under fraught conditions. Set almost entirely within a clinical trial for a random drug, Steven (Michael Stahler), one of the volunteers, hopes to make the best of the close quarters and strict confinement in order to support his dreams of being a writer, as well as winning the affections of another volunteer called Emily (Rayne Bidder). Along the way, he befriends Tomas (Marcos Esteves), a smooth-talking volunteer who offers to help Steven with his girl problems in exchange for co-writing a new script in the hopes of achieving an eternal legacy. Very often, films involving clinical trials quickly descend into anarchic horror flicks involving zombie outbreaks or viral epidemics. Garzon Martinez's film, who also wrote the story, is not jumping into that overstuffed genre, and instead remains more psychologically stimulating. This is about the character interaction on screen, and how the various motivations cause intense conflict when placed under an intense set of conditions. The claustrophobia that each of the characters experiences seems to heighten their foibles, whilst making them more sensitive and self-aware. This is then dramatically enhanced by the spectre of the drug itself, which may or may not be affecting all of the volunteers.
Where The Broken Legacy really shines is its character development and dialogue. The performers are all excellent, with Stahler being a great choice for the leading role. His range is tested with the multiple heavy themes, and his interaction with all the cast is great to see. Esteves is also an enigmatic on-screen presence, capturing a lot of mystery and life-lesson style philosophy along the way.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for The Broken Legacy above.
Cinematically, there are few moments to really grapple with or be challenged by, but there is a steadiness in the filmmaking that was needed to allow the script to engage with the audience without losing their interest. Mainly, the movie seems more preoccupied with making slightly more philosophical comments about the nature of life, than trying to win any favour with viewers by using shock tactics or overly visual theatrics, which is to its credit.
Criticism can be found in the story’s underdeveloped sections. Some plot points seem to come about very quickly, or are left completely unexplained - such as a beating that Stephen receives, or Emily’s romantic choices. The film could have benefitted from another 20 minutes, in my opinion, to fully flesh out these characters which had been so painstakingly crafted. Also, the final third felt a little weak, opting to avoid an unnecessary pulse-racing antics (which is fine) but not really doing justice to the storyline.
That being said, The Broken Legacy is a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable drama with some romance and psychological thriller elements thrown in. A movie that grapples with heavy themes of life, love, and legacy with a lot of tenacity and heart.