DON’T TELL A SOUL
(director/writer: Alex McAulay; cinematographer: Guillermo Garza; editor: Ben Baudhuin; music: Joseph Stephens; cast: Fionn Whitehead (Matt), Jack Dylan Grazer (Joey), Mena Suvari (Carol), Rainn Wilson (Dave Hamby), McKenna Christine Poe (Teenage Girl); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Merry-Kay Poe/Chris Mangano; Saban Films; 2020)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A psychological thriller with moral implications about brothers who are thieves. The teenage brothers live in a grimy smokestack-filled Midwestern factory town and were raised by a brutal, abusive and drunken father. We will learn later on he died in a fight.
The bleak drama is written and directed by Alex McAulay (“The Sparkle Room”).
The lower-class teenage brothers, from a dysfunctional home, are the overbearing nasty and nonredeemable older one, at 17, Matt (Fionn Whitehead, Brit actor), and the less vile but still delinquent 14-year-old Joey (Jack Dylan Grazer). Joey breaks into an old lady neighbor’s house being fumigated to get money for their lung cancer-stricken widowed mom (Mena Suvari), who is burdened with mounting medical bills. Joey, wearing a gas mask, steals $10,000 she keeps in a dresser. They are spotted and chased by the security guard Hamby (Rainn Wilson), who in the chase falls down an abandoned well covered by a tarp. Joey struggles with leaving the guard to rot to death or to save him at the risk of going to prison. Joey for the next few days brings food and water but offers him no other help fearing his older brother’s reaction and his own fear of going to prison.
The premise offers moral conflict as drama (which is fine). But when the filmmaker is not content with it being a taut character study and offers to resolve the conflict through unrealistic action scenes involving several twists, things fall apart with the surprises and by leaving us no character to be possibly saved to care about anymore.
REVIEWED ON 1/27/2021 GRADE: C+