The story of two brothers walking two paths facing one intense and emotional situation is a tricky one to pull off successfully. It’s something that I noticed as a trend in the “Consequences” block of the “Made in Arkansas” short film series at the Little Rock Film Festival. It’s hard to avoid the “Cain and Abel” staple that many films of this type attempt to avoid. What makes “Blood Brothers” work is the fact that, instead of avoiding the “stereotype” (I use this word loosely because the overall theme is so broad), it embraces it completely.
From the film’s website:
“One year ago, Arkansas brothers Michael and Travis Ray became targets of a local drug cartel after the meth lab they were operating exploded and burned to the ground. Michael fled to Chicago in hopes of beginning a new life for the better, while his brother Travis escaped to Miami. Now, tired of living in fear for he and his brother, Travis returns to Arkansas with an insane plan. He’ll kidnap the cartel leader. He’ll negotiate a truce. He’ll ensure a safe future for both of them. But what Travis doesn’t know is that the cartel is already one step ahead, and his actions might just mean the end of Michael’s new, cleaned-up city life.”
Now, on to the goods:
Michael (Kyle Wigginton) has just proposed to his girlfriend (Jessica Serfaty). They live together in an elegant Chicago high-rise and things seem to be going well for him. His brother Travis (Jeff Fuell), however, isn’t having such an easy time living his life. When everything hits the fan, both brothers find themselves in life-altering situations.
The only qualm I had with “Blood Brothers” was the character of Michael. Wigginton’s acting was solid and the direction was sound, but I don’t think we were graced with enough time with the character to convince me that the stakes were high enough for him. He faces a tough decision when his fiancée is kidnapped. He must choose to save her life by giving up his brother’s location or to let her die by keeping his brother safe. Surrounded by an emotional setup between supporting actors (including Serfaty, who was superb), the action happened a little too fast. Of course, there’s only so much you can do with a short film, so c’est la vie. But, because of this, when the climax ensues, his emotional response seems to come out of nowhere.
The dynamic between each brother was executed in an extremely unique way. The direction was split up between Jason Miller and Seth Savoy. This allowed for the separate stories to have two completely different feels. Though you couldn’t necessarily tell that the stories were separately directed, it definitely made a lot of sense once you thought about it. It was a truly brilliant move.
Fuell was brilliant as Travis. His character had to embody quite a few emotions in a short amount of time. Credit is also owed to the screenwriting, also performed jointly by Miller and Savoy. Kenn Woodard’s supporting role of Marty paralleled and worked with Fuell’s character in a way that made each scene shared impactful and memorable.
The climax of “Blood Brothers” is a twist that will completely slap you in the face. It’s well done and beautifully written and directed. Couple that with a solid cast and a “meth lab” that is burned to the ground, and you’ve got yourself quite a ride packed into a half hour film. I highly recommend keeping up with this film for more information. Be sure to “like” the film’s Facebook page.
Little Rock Movie Examiner’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars