Friday, November 25, 2011

Restitution and Entering the Murderous World of Neo-noir: A Movie Review

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*a screener of this film was provided by Video Services Corp.

Director: Lance Kawas.

Writer: Mark Bierlein.

Restitution is an indie neo-noir thriller that is set in Detroit, Michigan where anything can happen. And that anything is Tom Arnold playing an ex-Marine sharpshooter. As well, the protagonist gets to kill two thugs while meandering around the crime scene. Should someone arrest him? Also, there are dubious detectives, a damsel in distress and a phony corporation who likes to deal in nose candy rather than legit' products. All of these plot elements create for a very enjoyable time in a neo-noir world.

The plot takes awhile to build momentum as two characters flirt across a bar. Their romance is short lived as Bryan Spikes, an investigator, finds his boss to be a little too demanding. Soon, Bryan is heading over a bridge with a chain collar. A year passes and a writer is now on the scene investigating Bryan's final hours for an upcoming book. This writer also finds a criminal element working in the boatyards and in corporate America which leads him to a climactic confrontation.

Some of the characters are excitable as well including Tom the neighbour, played by Tom Arnold. The best lines in this production are ad-libed by Arnold as he plays a semi-neurotic and homophobic companion to Alex, the writer. As well, Mena Suvari plays the femme fatale whose back story of abandonment is believable and full of angst. Finally, C. Thomas Howell plays one of several villains whose presensce is only made know in the final third of the film. Each of these characters are given attention by writers Lance Kawas and Mark Bierlein. And even the writer, Bierlein, gets to play the central protagonist, Alex.

Restitution plays with a few genres, but centrally this is neo-noir. This is an under utilized genre that was popular in American cinema during the '50s and some might say this style of filmmaking is finding a resurgence. Elements of the neo-noir include two-faced detectives and beautiful women with secrets, while the film's story is a mystery to be solved. All of these elements are found in Restitution, a film that is well written and full of new discoveries.

There are a few stumbling points in the film, however. The film's early pacing is a little slow and the story takes some time to find momentum. However, once the plots and sub-plots find an anchor in their characters, the film moves along at a quick pace. The sell sheet for this film calls Restitution an exciting action piece: "Restitution is an action packed thriller that is filled to the brim with suspense, mystery, murder and sweet revenge" (Video Services Corp). That is a bit of an overstatement. There is one car explosion and some gunplay, but this film is not action packed. Instead the film is a little more evenly paced and events build in a believable way. Also, the acting is well played and even Arnold sheds some real tears. The story offers a twist in the end and Restitution is a fun time spent with a genre that is not used or seen very often.

This film released on DVD November 8th and this film fan would recommend Restitution to those who enjoy independently produced features. Well written and full of great dialogue, from Arnold and others, this is a film to be seen and possibly even admired. Plus, you have to see Arnold in camo fatigues holding a fourty pound rifle to really understand acting depth and true entertainment.

Story/writing/dialogue: 8 (lots of great interaction here).
Characters/believability: 7.75 (every major characters gets some back story).
Style/directing: 7.75 (limited budget for this film, some Dutch angles, overhead shots).

Overall: 7.8 (comparing this film to others similar in budget e.g. Speed of Thought).

The film's homepage can be found here:

The Restitution Official Website

A second review of this title at Video Views:

Restitution Reviewed at Video Views

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