An exercise in technique over content, Jevon Roush’s memory pic, “Second Born,” about an architect’s rocky upbringing, features baroque construction but lacks the emotional follow-through needed for it to be a complete drama. Writer-director Jevon Roush and editor Michael Taylor intercut among at least three different time frames, but the more the style shows, the more its effect dissipates. Ideally suited to fest play, vid-shot pic will have a slim hope on video shelves.
While celebrating his 40th birthday, Leo (Jon Tenney) pales at the sight of a gift from g.f. Natasha (Diane Neal) — a portrait painting of a child. Leo’s reaction is so disproportionate that it prompts Natasha to demand a reason for his outburst. An already dizzying montage of flashbacks is hinged to Leo’s emotional state, as he recalls in fragments the pains endured by him and his family.
Video’s nature tends to convey present tense the best, and pic’s turning the clock back 34 years to when Leo is 6 and unevenly parented by painter-mom Laura (Miriam Shor) and blue-collar dad Gerry (Jay O. Sanders) never quite convinces. Laura’s focus on her work rather than her kids ends up having nearly tragic consequences for Leo’s younger sister, and, apparently feeling guilty, Laura stops painting. To make matters worse, Gerry crushes his hand in an accident at work, and Leo begins to feel he’s being taken for granted.
In the present which occasionally pops back into view, Leo — still quietly raging after all these years — seems to be sabotaging his own firm’s bid for a major Gotham museum project. But when the family revelations fall into place, it seems much ado about little — or at least, about a matter that with a bit of talk and understanding could have been taken care of years before.
Shor and Sanders fight and love and age over pic’s zig-zagging course of time, generating poignancy that somehow eludes Tenney’s rather monotonous handling of Leo. Next to the flashy editing, other production aspects are fairly bland.