Directed by E.B. Hughes
Starring George Katt, Waylon Payne, Peter Greene, Rosebud Baker, Sayra Player and Judy Jerome
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Acts of friendship, no matter how benevolent or well intentioned, rarely go without consequences, and they are a regular source of material for storytellers who are inevitably gifted with characters, storyline, and conflict all wrapped up in a neat little bow. Filmmaker E. B. Hughes’s personal and emotive indie film Turnabout eschews much of the trimmings which usually accompany these kinds of movies, instead focusing directly on the two central characters, and how a simple act of friendship from one to the other becomes the catalyst for so much fallout.
At the beginning of Turnabout, we see Billy (George Katt) attempt to commit suicide by jumping, whilst intoxicated, into a freezing ocean. After being pulled out by some local nighttime fishermen, Billy makes a call to one of his oldest, yet sadly estranged, friends Perry (Waylon Payne). Perry makes his awkward goodbyes to his obviously irritated partner (Judy Jerome), and brings Billy a fresh set of clothes. After reminiscing briefly in a nearby diner, where we learn about Billy’s ne'er do well lifestyle and Perry’s straight-laced approach to growing up, the two old friends embark on a night of booze, brawling and baes.
Using the (almost) single night structure, the story here is grippingly revealed with edgy plot points, and a huge sense of mystery and danger surrounding the character of Billy. His presence keeps the viewer firmly on edge throughout most of the film, whilst Billy’s continual slip into chaos is also compelling - if a little predictable. The dialogue between the two friends is genuine and believable, hashing out life lessons over a couple of brews whilst taking arbitrary punts at identifying their own fatal flaws. Several key plot points change the course of the story for the better, keeping the movie moving without sinking into philosophical dead air. With the introduction of drug dealer Leo (Peter Greene), Turnabout kicks into another gear, with his phenomenal (if brief) turn.
Aesthetically, Hughes’s movie is littered with amazing shots of almost noirish cinematography that felt like classic cinema blended with modern thrillers. The pacing of the film is kept pretty slow for the most part, allowing the rich visuals of Billy and Perry on their epic adventure to immerse the viewer into this meaningful and ill-fated relationship. There was slightly too much attention paid during some of the stip club scenes (and a few moments after) that felt gratuitously focused on skin. That being said, I think the atmosphere being aimed for was to make the viewer seem as uncomfortable as Perry was, which was important.
Ultimately a stylish and deeply emotive film with two standout central performances, Turnabout is a film that reveals the danger or vulnerability we sometimes leave ourselves open to by simply being charitable, and the outcome of associating ourselves with people who may not have our best intentions in mind, or who look to exploit our own sense of friendship.