Review by James Lindorf
It was announced earlier this year that Gravitas Ventures had acquired the distribution rights to Broken Star. This psychological thriller is the first film from Kandoo’s new slate of six to eight low budget films, aimed at developing undiscovered talent. Broken Star was helmed by first-time feature film director Dave Schwep, written by newcomer David Brant, and stars Analeigh Tipton (Two Night Stand; Warm Bodies) and Tyler Labine (Super Troopers 2; Tucker and Dale vs Evil). Gravitas will release Broken Star in theaters and on VOD July 20th.
Young starlet Markey Marlowe (Tipton) is sentenced to 30 days of house arrest along with a temporary restraining order. Lucky for her, she has a great assistant who was able to find an open portion of a duplex, away from prying eyes. Once in her “home away from home” without her cell phone, access to the internet, no visitors, and with nothing to read but the encyclopedia and bible, the young star quickly beings to suffer from cabin fever. When she reaches her breaking point, she turns to the only person she can, her reclusive landlord. Daryl (Labine) is a shy middle-aged man more comfortable alone in his home than he is interacting with the world. It takes him nearly half the movie before he willingly even makes eye contact with Markey. Once they make their initial breakthroughs, their particular afflictions begin feeding into the other’s, leading the pair into a disastrous spiral.
For their first outing, I would say that Kandoo hit a solid double. It wasn’t out of the park, but it was a near miss that should give the creative team plenty to be proud of. Brant’s script is full of elements of voyeurism, exhibition, obsession, and depression, while taking a dig at both Hollywood culture and the family life of child actors. Not to be outdone, Schwep made many smart decisions with the shot selection, pacing, and music throughout the film. He walks you to the edge while building tension, typically leaving it to the viewer to imagine the dangers that lurk below.
I think what kept this film from being a potential smash hit was the acting. I am a Labine apologist, and have been following his career for years, so I may be a bit biased when I say I think he gave a slightly more consistent performance. While his performance wasn’t award worthy, he was fine as the unstable neighbor who lives to serve while watching the world through a lens. Tipton, on the other hand, had her ups and downs. Some scenes were terrific, and others were distractingly flat. Another downfall is in the overly ambiguous ending.
Overall, Schwep and Brant presented a solid film worth your time while displaying a ton of talent for a pair of newbies. However, when it was over, I was more excited about their next project than watching this one a second time.