A recently released ex-con can’t get anything right in “Chain Link,” writer-director Dylan Reynolds’ rough, intimate drama that struggles to make a downhill life seem something more than just inevitable. Reynolds focuses on the faces of his committed actors, who are given unusually generous, extended dialogue scenes that — with few exceptions — manage to pulse with a sense of reality. Mark Irvingsen’s Anthony is a telling portrayal of a dead-ender, and his low-key approach proves an interesting choice. Fests should come calling, but commercial hopes, given the glum material and talented but no-name thesps, are dim.
Anthony lives with mom Rhea (Jody Jaress, excellent) while trying to figure how to come up with enough money to be able to get his own place so his growing son, dubbed “Little Man” (Luciano Rauso), can live with him. Anthony’s ex, Jade (Yassmin Alers) is raising the lad, who wants to be with Anthony despite his dad’s obvious flaws. The ex-con’s well-intended efforts, though, lead to a chain of crimes that get more disturbing.
— Robert Koehler