Synthetic Truth

Dir: Zachary Yoshioka
Starring: Dirk Been, Hannah Shields, Jeff Flynn, Claire Lunden

Trash City
Top 10:2003
Jim, being an executive producer on this, begged off and asked me for an unbiased review. I agreed, but as a coward, insisted on a pseudonym - just in case it sucked. I needn't have worried: the good far outweighs the bad and it's impossible to believe Ballistic's budget would have financed T3 for approximately three frames.

At 110 minutes, this is the Gone With the Wind of teenage angst pics, and at times you almost need a scorecard to know who's doing what to whom. As the characters cross paths, they learn that the truth hurts, along with a helping of "life sucks, then you die." One is a drug dealer, another a plastic-surgery addict, a third is two-timing her fiance, and so on. Cheerful, well-adjusted people are notable by their absence.

Among the main roles, Nigel (Devyan DuMon) does well, perpetually taking advantage of his best friend (Flynn) without even realising it. On the other hand, Abby (Lunden) never breaks through and her eventual fate seems forced - while still shocking, it's hard to care. Her performance seems to need more screen time; with the movie divided among so many characters, broad strokes are more effective. It can be done: both a trio of drug dealers and a bunch of party animals make a lasting impression, despite only appearing in a few scenes.

It's probably a better 90-minute film than a 110-minute one. For example, an early flashback makes its (drunken) point in 20 seconds, then hangs round needlessly. However, the overall success rate is high, and some scenes work every bit as well as in a Hollywood production. My personal favourite had both sides of a relationship simultaneously echoing each others' thoughts, and the editing is a strength throughout.

Technically, the biggest weakness is sound that varies widely in quality, sometimes echoey or near-inaudible. Against this, the use of music is excellent, the original score (by Efrain Becerra and Andy Leach) and tracks from local bands The Strand and Mourning Maxwell provide a fitting backdrop as events hurtle to a dark conclusion. By then, you're no less engrossed in the characters' fates than with any major motion picture. Ballistic have made something to surpass most expectations: if not spinning straw into gold, this is solid silver.

Max Renn


The truth may *not* set you free...

Yoshioka shoots to thrill...
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