Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2013. Anarchist’s Convention Films, Olmos Productions, Go For Films. Screenplay by John Sayles. Cinematography by Kat Westergaard. Produced by Peter Bobrow, Edward James Olmos, Alejandro Springall. Music by Mason Daring. Production Design by Mara A. Spear. Costume Design by Dana R. Woods. Film Editing by John Sayles. Independent Spirit Awards 2013.
John Sayles is in top form with this fascinating mystery drama that puts film noir elements into a modern-day setting. LisaGay Hamilton is excellent as a parole officer who is assigned a case that turns out to be a woman from her past (Yolonda Ross, who is superb), and she quickly realizes that she needs to reassign her to someone else as an existing relationship between officer and parolee is against the rules. When Hamilton’s ex-army son goes missing and is possibly in serious trouble, she recruits her old friend to use her contacts and know-how as a recovering addict to help find him. The labyrinthine plot takes them first to an ex-cop (Edward James Olmos, perfectly cast) who then leads them on a trail from California to Mexico in search of their target, putting them in the way of some very shady characters and gradually revealing to Hamilton the possibility that her son isn’t just in trouble but is making it. Beautifully shot, superbly acted and never dull for a moment, the film is by turns moving, terrifying and wholly satisfying, one of the richest stories that Sayles has put on film in years; it’s a tribute to his talent for creating realistic situations that never feel like they’re in a movie, but are also incredibly compelling and impossible to resist.