The tale of an average man's irretrievable descent into misfortune, "Sinkhole" has the elements of a potentially nifty noir: evocative cinematography, a seedy criminal underworld and vivid, well-drawn lowlife characters. But utterly languorous pacing saps the film of its vitality; it's like a trip without a destination. Further lower-tier fest audiences will probably step into this "Sinkhole."

The tale of an average man’s irretrievable descent into misfortune, “Sinkhole” has the elements of a potentially nifty noir: evocative cinematography, a seedy criminal underworld and vivid, well-drawn lowlife characters. But utterly languorous pacing saps the film of its vitality; it’s like a trip without a destination. Further lower-tier fest audiences will probably step into this “Sinkhole.”

Destitute and disheartened, Jason (Bryan Marshall, likable in a heavy-lidded performance) is a former high school teacher whose affair with a student (Caitlin Rose) cost him his position. When his job at a landfill leads him to discover a body, two thugs demand Jason’s silence and force him into an ambiguous job under a local kingpin (Patrick Green). Soon, to his chagrin, Jason is ferrying drugs around town with a quirky roughneck (Robin Spriggs, terrific). Desperate for money to pay his estranged wife (Kelly O’Neal), Jason must untangle himself from a web of trouble. Yet there’s very little growth in the protagonist; Jason is almost entirely reactive. Scribe/helmer Paul Schattel makes interesting camera choices, and Steve Agnew’s cinematography is uncommonly well-textured for an indie, effectively alternating expansive well-lit vistas with darkened, cramped interiors.

Sinkhole

Production

A Woodfilm Entertainment presentation of a Harrow Beauty undertaking of a Rock Creek production. Produced by Paul Schattel. Executive producer, Christine Banman. Directed, written by Paul Schattel.

Crew

Camera (Cinefilm color), Steve Agnew; editor, Jacob Walters; music, Jason Smith; production designer, Pearson Hobart-Beaumari; art director, Linda Jean Marlowe. Reviewed on DVD, Santa Monica, June 21, 2004. (In Dances With Films Festival). Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Bryan Marshall, Robin Spriggs, J.R. Hooper, Kelly O'Neal, Caitlin Rose, Patrick Green.
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