By G. Michael Dobbs
This week’s movie review column includes a French thriller that’s well worth discovering and a down and dirty documentary on wrestling.
It is one of the biggest shames of the American movie industry at large that they won’t accept films with subtitles and insists that foreign films be dubbed instead.
Even though I speak only English hearing the voices of the actors in a film maintains an important dimension to their performances.
The Blu-Ray release of “The Prey” luckily enough has both the original French language version with English subtitles as well as an English-dubbed one. Nobody should have an excuse not to try watching this superior crime thriller.
Albert Dupontel plays Franck Adrien, a convicted bank robber who only has three months to serve out his sentence. He is a loner in prison, talking to few and trusting no one, especially his former partner in the crime who wants to know where Adrien hid the two million francs.
Adrien’s situation is made worse because his cellmate is a convicted child murderer. His position at the prison doesn’t get any better when he saves his cellmate from being killed by several inmates controlled by a corrupt guard.
His actions add three more months to his sentence. His cellmate, Maurel, (played with an almost clinical precision by Stéphane Debac) is freed when a witness recants her testimony and Adrien asks him to deliver a message to his wife and daughter.
That turns out to be a huge mistake and starts a fast-moving and suspenseful chase film. It turns out that Maurel is indeed a serial killer and Adrien must do everything he can to stop him.
Director Eric Valette and writers Laurent Turner and Luc Bossi provide us with some great action sequences and surprises. This is a solid action film.
Dupontel is the anchor for the film and his performance is quietly heroic. There are no big moments here as one might see in an American action film with the hero tossing off some witty or ironic lines. Instead we have a disciplined man whose one thought is to save his family.
This is a deeply enjoyable, fast moving suspense film.
As I’ve been fascinated by the athleticism and theater of professional wrestling since I was a kid, I was eager to watch this documentary by Michael Perkins on Steven Scarborough. Scarborough has almost been a wrestling fan, who turned professional and then in 2008 started working on his own wrestling promotion in the Atlanta, Ga., area.
This film takes place over the course of three years and details Scarborough’s obsession to recreate the kind of wrestling experience he loved as a kid.
The road though is not an easy one as he has to cope with training wrestlers, finding a venue and attempting to get his matches televised locally.
While Scarborough is an interesting character and the three-year time span is an ambitious one, the film falters at times. The viewer never gets a sense of how Scarborough’s wife thinks about her husband’s goal nor are we ever informed how he is funding his efforts. While the film profiles two of the wrestlers, it have should have done several more.
There are few moments in the film in which Scarborough explains why he is willing to obviously sacrifice so much for the sake of professional wrestling.
My final problem is that Perkins has shot his film in black and white. There is a difference between a director and photographer planning a film in black and white. Black and white requires a different lighting and scene composition. All Perkins did was to simply turn off his ability to record color. The results are muddy images at times that serve no purposes in moving the story forward.
Hardcore wrestling fans may like the film, but it may be tough going for non-fans.
The film is available on DVD and through its distributor IndiePix as a download at www.indiepixfilms.com