Directed by: #ChadBolling
Written by: Chad Bolling
The insidious relationship between currency and crime is the overarching idea of Chad Bolling’s underwhelming crime drama about a serendipitous series of events all connected by an envelope of cash. Bolling’s script explores in the short runtime how in one night that envelope becomes key to a man’s rendezvous with a prostitute and a subsequent storyline involving a drug addict but neither has much depth to give the film meaning. Most of the film is awkwardly paced with no clear direction from Bolling as the actors are left doing lifeless caricatures of crime show scenarios that don’t lead anywhere satisfying. Kelly Wilson as the frustrated snarky prostitute has a few decent moments of charisma but the lack of narrative content in the shifting storyline leaves audiences aloof to any new inclusion.
At first, the film seems to revolve around interesting material mainly the power dynamic between a female prostitute and male client. The awkward small talk and gender politics between Eric McDonald and Kelly Wilson’s characters don’t go anywhere however as the situation transforms into a dubious robbery. The moments that are intended to make The Envelope shocking or intense just fall flat as the character development is extremely limited to cliché from personality to action. Motivations just seem removed from the film as the interconnected nature makes the film feel like it’s constantly starting up again. While this narrative form is successful in other iterations such as Pulp Fiction or Magnolia, Bolling’s attempt to make all the characters stories interconnected feels cynical and tacked on with no real payoff to the story. The final messaging being somewhat clear but not enough to have the audience care about the character’s fate.
The aesthetic of the film does capture that seedy nature of low life crime; dark streets, harsh lights, messy drug dens but there’s no depth to it. The cinematography is very one-note, unable to convey any tension or complexity to any of the character’s conflicts. While Bolling’s film attempts to wrestle with serious subjects such as drug addiction nothing feels like it's taken seriously in a realistic context. The audience is mostly left scratching their head as to why the film is heading in this direction as nothing feels earned or resolved and whatever thematic resonance was imagined by Bolling is hard to grasp on to. The Envelope follows a structure that requires more time and development for its characters and consequences to expand, without this Bolling just seems to be rushing through a checklist of actions.
Dissatisfying in how it broaches and executes its ideas, The Envelope leaves much to be desired with its meandering script and hollow characters.