A LIFE NOT TO FOLLOW – Indie Film Review
The latest from indie director Christopher DiNunzio and the filmmaking team at Creepy Kid Productions, “A Life Not To Follow” (to be released August 2015) is a neo-Noir gangster film told via a dark triptych of interlacing stories. These three chapters are bounded by brief sequences, shot with an almost-dreamlike quality, of a beautiful young woman whose identity and significance is, at first, a mystery. The film ultimately answers these questions about her in the course of telling its story.
The film is set in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Its first chapter focuses on Eric (Fiore Leo), a freelance hoodlum who is in the process of taking vengeance on the Mafioso for whom he involuntarily took a serious fall. As a result, he is a dead man . . . and he knows it. With his death imminent, he must make amends for his past sins by killing those who wronged him, no matter the price. The second chapter focuses on Angelo (John Martellucci), a wiseguy willing to do anything to move up in the world. When he gets his chance, the deal involves a significant sacrifice; he must kill his best friend or in turn be killed. In the third chapter, Tobias Kane (David Graziano), an F.B.I. agent turned private investigator, is on the trail of a missing girl. In his long search for her, he comes face to face with a host of unsavory characters. His final confrontation with them will lead him either to perdition or salvation.
DiNunzio is not a stranger to Italian-American gangster tales. His short film “Under The Dark Wing” (also starring Leo and Graziano) introduced indie film fans to some formidable creative talent, both in front of and behind the camera. “A Life Not To Follow” allows that talent to flourish in a feature-length environment. The story and screenplay, created and written by DiNunzio and Pedro Alvarado, is an imaginative entry to a genre that has many contenders. Its three-chapter structure, which provides three different viewpoints on the same world, works well to advance the overall story arc. It uses the same type of Mametian dialogue that I appreciated so much in “Under The Dark Wing,” again to good effect. The screenplay is brought to vivid visual life with excellent cinematography by Nolan Yee. The original score by Eros Cartechni enhances the mood evoked by the visuals and dialogue without overpowering it. The editing by DiNunzio gracefully weaves the three chapters together, artfully using the fantasy sequences mentioned above to connect them on both thematic and narrative levels.
The cast does an outstanding job in this film. David Graziano, who has become one of my favorite indie actors, wears the white hat in this film, having played a capo in “Under The Dark Wing.” He has an intuitive feel for noir-ish characters that allows him to lose himself in his roles. His on-screen acting and his voice-over narration are equally effective. Fiore Leo has stepped up his game in playing the lone wolf type of gangster; his intensity plays well, especially in contrast to Michael Capozzi‘s Luca, a gangster with a stone-cold wiseguy exterior that hides a heart that’s still beating. Luca’s friendship with Martellucci’s Angelo, whose capacity for warmth is his biggest liability, makes it painful to watch each have to choose between fealty to the family and loyalty to each other.
Want to find out which character is the one who lives a life not to follow? Check out this film when it is released to the general public next month. It’s highly recommended. In the mean time, watch the trailer and check out the links (both below) for more information on this well-done indie feature.
A hitman, a gangster and a private detective share an interlacing narrative about common human frailty.
Disclosure: I provided this fair and honest review in exchange for access to a screener of “A Life Not to Follow.” No financial considerations were involved.