Review: ‘Venice Bound’

Ambitious beyond its budgetary bounds, the extremely modestly produced "Venice Bound" indicates a talent-in-the-raw in filmmaker James O'Brien. The noirish tale is simply too narratively chaotic and technically hamstrung to connect commercially, but it could find niche appeal in specialized arenas with a taste for the darkly comic.

Ambitious beyond its budgetary bounds, the extremely modestly produced “Venice Bound” indicates a talent-in-the-raw in filmmaker James O’Brien. The noirish tale is simply too narratively chaotic and technically hamstrung to connect commercially, but it could find niche appeal in specialized arenas with a taste for the darkly comic.

Superficially, pic’s about three twentysomethings who meet by chance on Venice Beach. Seb (Gary Kohn) is a petty thief on the lam from a Gotham mobster, while Linus (Eric Kopatz) is a Boston stockbroker fed up with the grind and hypocrisy of his job. The third, Spoon (Jackson Price, a particular standout), is a refugee from Chicago who simply can’t remember how he got there. He simply woke up hanging from a tree in the park. About half the film deals with the backstory, and that proves quite cumbersome. It’s only when Seb suggests the three of them rob the house of a couple on vacation that the plot starts to hum. It turns out that Linus is an out-of-control federal agent and that Seb’s g.f. has taken up with Frank (Carl William Grant), the mobster, who hops a plane to pop the absconding grifter.

The tale twists and turns to quite a satisfying, if bizarre, conclusion. But patience is paramount to enjoy the full effect. O’Brien has a penchant for too many odd angles, and this no-budget effort suffers from an often garbled soundtrack. But this is a good calling card for the helmer and his sense of the offbeat, and the cast of raw, energetic actors keeps one glued to the screen.

Venice Bound

Production

An Artists' Coalition production. Produced by James O'Brien, Eric Kopatz, Dave Greenberg. Executive producer, Gary Kohn. Directed, written by James O'Brien.

Crew

Camera (Foto-Kem color), Eric Swanson; editor, Dave Greenberg; music, O'Brien, Kopatz; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Steve Weiss. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 25, 1995. (Also in Edinburgh Film Festival.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Spoon ... Jackson Price Seb ... Gary Kohn Linus ... Eric Kopatz Frank ... Carl William Grant Amy ... Tara Steilen Lin ... Carol Dolan Jimmy ... Stephen Bruno
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