Greetings from the Underground!
One of the things I love about indie filmmakers is their unpredictability in what they create. Such is the case with director Nathan Suher’s new film The Assassination of Western Civilization. This ambitious thriller tells the story of tabloid writer named Mark who is dealing with a failing marriage, a mistress, and the fact that he witnessed the assassination of a Senator. As he struggles with avoiding a psychological break, he is visited by agents from the FBI. As they talk, Mark not only starts to question whether the agents are who they say they are but also questions who he is himself. We watch as his life spirals out of control over the course of an hour and fourteen minutes, all shot in a single take.
I have huge amount of respect for all involved in The Assassination of Western Civilization. They manage to give the audience a compelling story without a single edit. Not only did this keep things personal and intimate but also gave it a raw edge that I enjoyed. The performances by all involved were solid given the challenging format. Phoenyx Williams plays Mark and he sells this part well. While some of the characters leave and come back, Williams is always on camera. To remember the dialog, emote and stay in character for the entire length of the movie had to be difficult but he was definitely up to the task. I loved this character and the number of layers there were to him. Sheri Lee was fantastic as Gwen, one of the FBI agents. Her character dripped with darkness and you could tell she really was into this role. The other FBI agent, Maccabees, is played by Brad Kirton. He went all in and brought the crazy to his role. He chewed up a lot of scenery and was fun to watch. The interaction between these three characters is the glue that not only holds the story together but also holds the audience’s attention.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of dialog. The script by Lenny Schwartz was interesting, filled with enough twists to keep you guessing to the end. The blocks of exposition are just the right length to move the story along as well as provide information without going overly long, for the most part. There were a couple of times where I thought the lines of dialog could have been cut as they felt a bit repetitive. These moments did not take me out of the film but were still noticeable. This could be also due to the way it was shot and I imagine the crew did have to improvise some lines which would explain this repetition. The subject matter of the discussions between the characters dripped with biting social commentary that is very relevant in the real world. I was also surprised by how many action sequences there were given the type of film it was. These action scenes helped keep things from getting monotonous.
The Assassination of Western Civilization is like the Manchurian Candidate and Rope had a baby. It is also the ultimate example of how you can make the most out of very little. It is not a perfect movie and its budget does show in some of its aesthetics, but it is a well executed, directed, and acted thriller with a message that is directly impacted by these trying times. This film is for independent film fans looking for something different or for those looking for a film that is not afraid to address tough subjects. I give it 4 out of 5 stubs.
The Assassination of Western Civilization premieres on Vimeo November 1st. For more information you can visit their official website here: http://www.imfilmworks.com/