(Costa Mesa, CA) April, 2015 – The wonderful thing about the cinematic thriller genre is that it needs only one specific ingredient that sets it apart from the other film genres: an intricate script that keeps the viewer guessing until the very last page. And the best part about the thriller genre is it doesn’t need a multi-million dollar budget to be successful. Newport Beach Film Festival co-founders Gregg Schwenk and Todd Quartararo—as well as all their talented, dedicated programmers and staff—understand this as they have screened the highest quality of independent films from around the world, including “Reparation,” a small budget thriller that is getting much notice after its April 25th debut. Courteous of Kyle Ham’s expert direction, a detailed script and fine acting, “Reparation” serves as another example of a quality independent thriller screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Farmer Bob Stevens (Marc Menchaca) is battered, but never broken, man whose mind is a complex jigsaw. He was first seen, by his future wife Lucy (Virginia Newcomb), wandering lost on the road, with three years of his memory wiped clean. All that is known is that he served in the Air Force and something traumatic happened, resulting in his discharge. As the years go by and they bond and fall in love, Bob’s mental and emotional stability slowly congeals, becoming more solid and giving him the peace he desires, especially when it comes to their daughter Charlotte (an adorable Dale Dye Thomas). Although an occasional memory flashes here and there, especially an image of a little boy who seems to be like a spirit guide to Bob (a powerfully endearing Body Behr, whose screen presence, even at such a young age, matches Menchaca during their scenes together), Bob seems to coping rather well in his new life. But when a bike-riding stranger appears, Jerome Kellar (Jon Huertas), all hell comes lose for the family, especially since Charlotte begins sketching the lost memories of her father.
Kyle Ham’s directorial effort is a fantastic debut in that the pacing continues on meticulously, giving the viewer time to absorb what specific details are occurring in the plotline of the story, especially during the flashbacks Bob’s experiences regarding his missing past. Ham expertly places each piece of the puzzle until the entire picture is revealed. His direction helps enhance the script he co-wrote with Steve Timm, a script whose characters are three dimensional and the dialogue is fluid, especially adding superatural elements that bring more potency to the story. However, in the third act, the foundation of the script and plot does dramatically lose its focus, especially the character continuity arc of Jerome, where his behavior changes into something at the end that doesn’t quite seem believable. But for a first- time script, it is a minor flaw and both screenwriters still come out unscathed when it comes to crafting a riveting story.
Known for his extremely enjoyable performance as Esposito on the hit TV series “Castle,” Huertas enhances his charming, magnetic presence with elements of menacing, stalking intensity that is reminiscent of Robert Mitchum in “Cape Fear.” Huertas has already proven himself as likable protagonist on “Castle;” he now solidifies his talent as a formidable antagonist in “Reparation.”
Matching Huertas’s performance is Menchaca, whose Bob is a truly wounded warrior walking on a razor’s edge. His rugged courage is laced with a believable vulnerability regarding loss and hidden guilt, but he never sinks into victimhood. Menchaca slowly peels back Bob’s persona like an onion, bringing more strength, determination and especially dignity with each passing minute until the end of the movie. He is a perfect equal for Newcomb’s Lucy, whose maternal power in protecting her family is extremely formidable against any danger they face. And by combining these qualities: acting, writing, direction, “Reparation” has just proven itself as another example of the fine independent thrillers that the Newport Beach Film Festival has debuted for the last 16 years.
Peter A. Balaskas is a fiction writer, copyeditor, journalist and voice over artist.
Reparation debuted at the Newport Beach Film Festival on 4/25, 2015. Its next screening at the festival will be 4/30/2015 (8:00 PM) at the venue below:
Regency South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana
Photos provided by Cinematic Red: A Full Service Public Relations Company for the Independent at Heart