Poor Production Values Keep This Film Grounded
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Kampf is new to the game of writing and directing and has obviously been influenced by some filmmakers who tamper with the story and use flashbacks and flash forwards to enhance the richness of the theme line. In the case of BROTHERS THREE: AN AMERICAN GOTHIC these borrowed techniques serve to confuse rather than enhance the appreciation of the film: the viewer is left with a feeling that too much is being taken for granted as far as additive information and too little attention is paid to character development and direction. The result is a bumpy ride of a movie that is in need of some postproduction surgery to make it appeal.
In a desolate forest cabin we meet New York lawyer Peter (Patrick Wilson) who has been summoned to this childhood 'home' by his brothers - the older Rick (Neal McDonough) and the younger, mentally challenged Norman (Scott Michael Campbell). Rick is sullen and angry, Norman is pitifully confused and abused, and Peter tries to make sense of the reunion. The boys' father (John Heard) is dead, leaving a will dividing his meager belongs among the three brothers. Through a series of confusing time changes in the guise of artistic flashbacks we discover that their mother is dead and that funeral attendance did not include the entire family, that Norman was the product of a drunken liaison with Loren (Melora Walters) who died at the hands of the father, and about other evidences of extreme family dysfunction. We also slowly discover the dark truths of the death of the alcoholic father, an incident that was brutal, but when the truth is revealed it unites the three brothers.
All of this is played out in the filthy cabin where most of the time is spent in imbibing beer and in fights both real and playful. At times we are not sure whether we are in the present or the remembered past, and instead of adding to the drama, this somewhat amateurish manipulation leaves the audience confused. The acting level of Wilson, McDonough, Campbell and Heard has some fine moments and some extended moments that seem like tired adlibing. Tighter control from the writer/director would have helped - especially in the editing room. Grady Harp, May 08"