Recommendation: 4/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Over the last couple of years when attempting to review the films of nominated for Live Action Shorts, I have tried to provide a brief review of each film. This year, I am taking a different approach and reviewing the film I thought was most deserving of the Oscar, “Detainment.”
Director: Vincent Lambe, Writer: Vincent Lambe, Starring: Ely Solan, Leon Hughes, Will O’Connell
Plot: Two ten-year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case, which shocked the world in 1993.
Review: From the opening moments of “Detainment,” you know something terrible has happened. Given that film focuses on two ten-year-old boys, we aren’t sure the level of what has occurred, but the uneasy feeling begins to grow in your gut almost instantly.
As police officers begin to unravel the truth while parsing through stories that don’t match completely, we learn these two boys walked away from a shopping mall with a small child in tow. Over the course of an afternoon, they led him further and further from the mall. Eventually, they arrive at a train yard where the child is brutally bludgeoned to death with rocks and other objects.
For their part, the child actors in this film, Ely Solan and Leon Hughes, are brilliant. I don’t know if I have ever seen child actors play more convincing roles. They effortlessly move from ignorance to blaming to remorseful as their story falls apart. With a subject matter this heavy, the only relief can come in the form of trying to discover the truth. Of course, as history informs us, we know what is waiting at the end of this tale. James Bulger was murdered without reason. “Detainment” raises more questions than it answers. For most films, this would force me to leave the theater angry. Here, I understood there is no good reason to take another’s life and I would have to sit with not fully understanding the motive.
Be good to each other,
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