Dave (Mike Delaney) and Joe (Joseph Mason) don’t have what you’d call a typical friendship. Dave, who tries to eke out a living selling random items from the trunk of his car, owes Joe money for rent and can’t pay up. So, he’s agreed to be, for lack of a better word, Joe’s ‘bitch’. Dave does whatever Joe tells him to do in order to pay off his debt. This includes acting as Joe’s lookout and driver while Joe deals drugs. After a deal gone wrong, Dave and Joe decide to switch to the ‘safer’ career of stealing cars. Things take a turn for the worse when a one-time teen soap star is found in the trunk of their latest steal.
From there, director Edwin Fernando Gonzalez’ feature debut gets crazy, treating the viewer to a tale of crime lords, soap stars and underground designer drug networks. It’s an ambitious story Gonzalez and co-writer Mike Delaney try to tell, and they do it on the smell of an oily rag (the film was mostly funded through IndieGoGo, costing around $5,000 US).For some filmmakers wanting to tell a story on a limited budget, they tailor the story to their budget (see Kevin Smith or Richard Linklater, whose early works rely almost entirely on dialogue-driven action). Gonzalez and Delaney don’t follow this route; instead telling the story they want to tell on a shoestring budget, even when their reach exceeds their grasp.
For its part, Medias Res looks stunning. It’s got the same rich, cold blueish hues of Michael Mann’s Heat and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive. It is constantly unpredictable; any time you think you have a handle on where the film is going, it takes a sharp turn into unexplored territory.
In addition, the performances are solid. Delaney is great as the inexplicably optimistic Dave, Mason is strong as his gangster partner and Sarah Coykendall fits nicely into the role of soap star turned possible femme fatale/soap icon Summer Hayes.
There are some minor gripes in the way of unconvincing character dynamics. Given the extent to which Gonzalez and Delaney have succeeded in creating such a vivid and complex world for their characters, this is a small quibble.
Medias Res is a slick, smart neo-noir that heralds exciting things to come from both Edwin Fernando Gonzalez and Mike Delaney. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Anotherfilmnerd's earliest cinematic memory was seeing Don Johnson throw up all over a suspect in John Frankenheimer's 'Dead Bang'. Ever since, he's devoted his life to searching out cinema that's weird, wonderful and features vomit in the most unlikely of places.