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.