'Misfortune' a neo-noir thriller of stark simplicity

  • Boyd (director/writer Desmond Devenish) hunts for a cache of diamonds from his murdered father in the neo-noir thriller "Misfortune."

    Boyd (director/writer Desmond Devenish) hunts for a cache of diamonds from his murdered father in the neo-noir thriller "Misfortune."

Posted7/13/2017 6:00 AM

An old-fashioned neo-noir thriller, "Misfortune" is a work of stark simplicity accompanied by a percussive, primal score taking up some considerable narrative slack.

It stars blue-steely-eyed producer/co-writer Desmond Devenish as Boyd who, along with girlfriend Sloan (Jenna Kanell) and scruffy best bud Russell (Xander Bailey, emanating a James Franco vibe), searches for stolen diamonds left by his father, who was killed by a ruthless business partner named Mallick (Kevin Gage).


"Misfortune" opens with Mallick's confrontation with Dad (Steve Earle), who already has a gun on his desk. Instead of shooting outright, Dad chats with his partner, enabling him to draw a gun.

The segment recalls a bathtub scene in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" where Eli Wallach's Tuco listens to a would-be assassin jabber for a while before blasting him with a pistol hidden in the bubbles.

"If you're going to shoot someone, shoot, don't talk," Tuco advises.

"Misfortune" suffers from a tendency to metaphorically talk a lot and not shoot, although there is plenty of shooting to be had.

An actor of opaque charisma, Devenish, working with co-writer Bailey, concocts a contemplative thriller with little to actually contemplate.

"Misfortune" comes with lots of pauses (pregnant and otherwise), painterly landscapes, ineffectual slow-motion shots and Sergio Leone-esque close-ups.

Calvin Markus' minimalist, horror-worthy score (rendered in high-grade sound) goes only so far to bolster this narrative inertia, as if "Misfortune" wanted to be directed by a different Malick, Terrence.

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