(director/writer: Robert Machoian; cinematographer: Oscar Ignacio Jiménez; editor: Robert Machoian; cast: Clayne Crawford (David), Sepideh Moafi (Nikki), Chris Coy (Derek), Avery Pizzuto (Jesse), Arri Graham (David’s son), Ezra Graham (David’s son), Jonah Graham (David’s son), Bruce Graham (David’s father), Noah Kershisnik (Hardware Clerk), Barbara Whinnery (Mrs. Staples); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Melia Leidenthal, Scott Christopherson; Neon; 2020)

“Intense and grim psychodrama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Robert Machoian, with a background in still photography, acquits himself well in his solo debut feature film as writer/director/editor in this intense and grim psychodrama of an enraged husband, the bearded David (Clayne Crawford), a former member of a rock band who is now a manual laborer. He’s going through a failed marriage with his longtime wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), a paralegal, who married her high school sweetheart.

The film was shot in Kanosha, a rural small town in Utah, but the actual location of the film was never given. In the trial separation, the wife gets control of their three little boys (Arri, Ezra and Jonah Graham) and the upset teenager girl Jesse (Avery Pizzuto)–she can’t understand why her parents don’t just make up.

One night the embittered David visits his former house and points a gun at his ex and her sleeping boyfriend Derek (Chris Coy), but doesn’t shoot because he hears the kids in the house.

The wintry setting and the excellent long takes by DP Oscar Ignacio Jiménez of the brooding David driving around in his pick-up in the desolate town, gives the film a pained look that reflects the downbeat turn in the marriage.

All indications are that David still loves his wife and wants her back, but she’s over him and ready to move on. His hurt shows on him, and in a great acting performance he doesn’t have to say a word to show how hurt he is.

It’s the story of a basically good man who suffers from a case of toxic masculinity. His worse impulses can lead to violent behavior if he doesn’t get his way and he can’t change his ways because he feels entitled to control his wife. She wants out to keep expanding her life and not be stuck in the stifling marriage. However the male director refuses to make him merely a villain for his inability to communicate with the mother of his children, as he shows how much he loves the boys.

The indie drama had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2020.

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