'Misfortune' a neo-noir thriller of stark simplicity
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.
Starring: Desmond Devenish, Nick Mancuso, Kevin Gage, Xander Bailey, Jenna Kanell
Directed by: Desmond Devenish
Other: A Gunnison Films release. Not rated, but contains violence, adult language. At the South Barrington 24. 90 minutes