"Evenhand tells the story of a newly joined partnership of two patrol car police officers in the rural (fictional) town of San Lovelis, Texas. One of the officers, Ted Morning, is a long-standing, hard core member of the force. He is paired up with a transfer, Bob Francis, who makes it a point to mention straight away that he is not a rookie, just a new addition to the San Lovelis staff. But as we get to know this duo as they go about their daily routine of dealing with domestic violence, car wrecks, armed robbery, and drug violations, it quickly becomes clear that next to Officer Morning Bob Francis seems the less experienced if for no other reason than he possesses a conscience. Although Morning's effectiveness as a cop is portrayed by director Joseph Pierson as an epiphenomenon of his 'primitive' relation to the citizens on his beat, it is the internal struggle Francis faces as he responsibly attempts to discharge his obligation as a police officer while contending with the moral conflicts inherent to wielding authority through force that sustains the narrative tension of this engrossing film. The relationship between the two men (played to perfection by actors Bill Sage and Bill Dawes) is also explored in depth, with particular emphasis on the way in which opposing personalities equilibrate as a function of time. This aspect of the film was handled by Pierson with exceptional care, precision and skill. The impact, in fact, is almost documentarian in its capacity to represent realistically the way in which conflict between people inevitably transforms each participant; subtly at first, then increasingly dramatically as the individuals involved interact within the singular emotional field produced by virtue of their entirely unique confrontation. Evenhand is a splendid example of psychological drama enacted on a small scale. Its perspicacious lens on human dilemma and strife will, however, stay with a viewer longer, and more tenaciously, than its scale gives reason to expect. My compliments to Sundance Channel for making this thought-provoking, lovingly crafted film available to cable television viewers."
Behind the Badge of a Superb Film
bbmura2 | Orlando, FL | 12/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Evenhand at the 2003 Florida Film Festival in Orlando, and I was impressed on so many levels. The scenes pulse with the conflict two street cops face moment by moment each shift, twenty-four hours a day. Director Joseph Pierson uses a poor section of San Antonio Texas to create the fictional San Lovisa as the backdrop for a storyline that reflects the good and the bad as artfully as a street mural can from a stuccoed city wall. On the surface, Officer Ted Morning (Bill Sage) is a bad cop. He arrests without question. His "psychic" instinct, not some judge, decides who is guilty. His newly assigned partner, Rob Francis (Bill Dawes), the good cop, winces and questions Morning's rashness. Unaffected, Morning advises him, "You want to help people? You arrest them. That's what you do. You're a cop." On the surface, the lines between good cop and bad cop seem not so blurred. But this film urges you to look past the obvious. Look past the badges of both characters and the story itself. Listen to the music (Joel Goodman, songs by Mike Doughty) that beats with strong bass, cowbells, or a poignant Latino rhythm. Watch carefully the mural that street kids paint throughout the film, which in the end finishes with its own final version of the story. Read the different signs people carry over their shoulders that you might easily mistake as product advertisements if you are just skimming the surface. Look beyond this conversion of diverse messages, and the subtext conveys a cop's greatest dilemma, "You can't be a friend to everyone." Evenhand arrests and escalates you toward a unified theme when both cops meet juveniles pointing guns with deadly intent. There is no black and white, no clear right and wrong. In the end, we realize that the best cop falls somewhere between the Francis' and Mornings' who monitor our busy and ever-changing streets each hour of every day in the real world. This is story telling and film making at its best. I'm thrilled to see this wonderful film sponsored and finally available for purchase. Bravo, and congratulations to all involved in its making!"
Highly, Highly Recommend this Surprise Gem!!!
E. A Hill | Plumsteadville, PA United States | 05/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I happened to stumble upon this movie on the Sundance Channel one evening. It immediately made its way onto my list of favorite movies of all time. What is most surprising is the reason behind why it is so superb. Unlike many movies today, there are no special effects and few action scenes to speak of. The weight of the movie's plot is carried solely on the shoulders of the two lead actors, Bill Sage and Bill Dawes. Bill Sage turns in an over-the-top performance as Officer Morning...a wild cowboy/take-no-prisoners-type of cop. He arrests people first and asks questions later. In fact, I suspect Mr. Sage had a lot of fun playing this role. However Bill Dawes, who portrays Officer Francis, has the more challenging job of keeping pace with Bill Sage's performance without becoming overshadowed or upstaged by it. Mr. Dawes keeps pace beautifully and both actors play off each other to perfection. I really would have believed that they were true cops. Bill Dawes is absolutely phenomenal in his understated role as Officer Francis.....a sensitive, recently transferred cop struggling to find his way and adjust to the wild ways of his newly assigned partner.
Bill Dawes brings a certain vulnerability to a character unlike any contemporary actor I can think of. He has a special knack for being able to portray a wide range of emotions, but is particularly talented in expressing pensive, melancholy, and fear. This is especially evident in the second half of Chapter 12 (A Close Encounter) when Officer Francis comes face to face with a boy in a laundry room who has a gun pointed directly at him, immediately followed by a scene later that evening when Francis is seen alone in his apartment reflecting on his earlier near-death experience. There is very little dialogue in these two scenes, yet I was able to feel Officer Francis' fear/sadness/frustration/loneliness/pain/shortcomings etc. Most importantly, Mr. Dawes is able to convey these emotions through his expressions and body language in less than 2 minutes and without ever saying a word. Being able to do this is acting. Being able to do it as well as he does is TALENT. He also possesses a one-of-kind vulnerable pout that will make any lady's heart just melt. In the first half of Chapter 9 (Take These Cuffs Off) Officer Morning asks Francis if "his ex-wife just stopped speaking to him one day". With a sudden downward glance, and heartbreaking subtle frown/pout, he responds that "it's a little more complicated than that." One of the biggest mysteries of modern times is how Mr. Dawes has not had more success as a dramatic actor. I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot more of this highly talented actor in years to come..... "
If John Sayles adapted a Joseph Wambaugh story...
Stephen McMenamin | Fullerton, CA USA | 08/26/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Evenhand is a very impressive accomplishment: a quiet, thoughtful cop film. Its premise is familiar: two very different personalities working to adapt to each other and to the many demands of their jobs as patrolmen. So it's very much a character study, and the two principal actors -- Bill Sage and Bill Dawes -- do an excellent job of realizing their characters. As the film's energy is derived from their characters' different natures, it would have been very easy for each of their performances to become charicatures. They did not. In each, you see a fully-dimensioned person, including echoes of his partner's traits. That's good acting of good writing.
I also enjoyed the matter-of-fact style of the film, which reminded me of Victor Nunez's wonderful and under-appreciated Ruby In Paradise."
Stephen McMenamin | 12/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I caught this movie on the Sundance Channel one night. It's a great study of two small force officers working the streets of a small Texas town. Besides depicting reality, it's also excellant film making."