×

Scalene

Taking its cue from the uneven-sided triangle after which it is named, "Scalene" presents three disparate accounts of a central event, the rape of a college girl by the mentally handicapped 26-year-old she was hired to tend.

With:
With: Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall, Adam Scarimbolo, Jim Dougherty, LaDonna Pettijohn, Raymond Kester.

Taking its cue from the uneven-sided triangle after which it is named, “Scalene” presents three disparate accounts of a central event, the rape of a college girl by the mentally handicapped 26-year-old she was hired to tend. Carefully crafted and impressively thesped, particularly by Margo Martindale, Zack Parker’s ambitious, self-styled thriller channels a wide spectrum of high-concept classics, from “Rashomon” to “Memento.” But the resolution of its conflicting truths proves so bizarre and idiotically off-the-wall that it mitigates all that precedes it. Self-conscious pic may attract a cult following in limited release.

The film’s three segments, presented successively, differ in content, duration, structure and style, depending on the character’s vantage. First we get the perspective of Janice (Martindale), the mother of Jakob (Adam Scarimbolo), a neurologically damaged young man. The second story unfolds from the p.o.v. of Jakob himself, and the third from the viewpoint of Paige (Hanna Hall), the college student Jakob allegedly raped.

Opening on a closeup of an eye, an homage to “Vertigo,” complete with Bernard Herrmann-flavored score, the first section begins with an action-packed if largely ineffectual display of murderous female-on-female hysteria as Janice seeks vengeance on the girl she holds responsible for her son’s incarceration. The narrative then slowly works its way backward toward calm, tracing a taut parabola in reverse a la Pinter’s “Damage.”

Jakob’s yarn lasts a mere nine minutes, to Janice’s half-hour, and mimics the character’s temporal and spatial disorientation, leaping from the teenage glue-sniffing session that cost him his mind to later abuse by his father and an amorous lakeside interlude with Paige. Time expands or conflates, bits of experience flashing by achronologically, with fantasies or projections reconfigured as real. Sometimes, a wandering camera imitates Jakob’s errant attention span. Yet despite the playful lensing, Jakob’s thread functions more successfully as narrative shorthand than as perceptual reconstruction.

The film’s final and longest stretch recounts the story according to Paige and, except for a 360-degree pan around her room tracing the passage of a day through changing light, proceeds in linear fashion. The segment, however, violates basic laws of logic, leaving time and space largely uninvolved as Paige makes a desperate, completely illogical stab at solving a perceived dilemma.

It’s possible that Parker could have made Paige’s actions more comprehensible in a more traditionally developed framework. Offered as the final piece in a suspenseful cinematic puzzle, though, the ultimate revelation produces bafflement rather than catharsis, unless one subscribes to the theory of intrinsic female irrationality.

Martindale is a joy to watch in a complex role that gives her considerable talent free rein, and Scarimbolo and Hall acquit themselves well. Lensing, music and editing, while accomplished, often feel more abstract than fully engaged.

Scalene

Production: An Along the Tracks presentation in association with Kachi Films of an Along the Tracks, Kachi Films production. Produced by Carlos Jimenez Flores, Zack Parker. Executive producer, Mike Khamis. Co-producer, Gerald F. Nichols. Co-executive producer, Pablo Betancourt. Directed, edited by Zack Parker. Screenplay, Brandon Owens, Parker.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Jim Timperman; music, the Newton Brothers; production designer, Cameron Bourquein; sound, Sonny Wingler; casting, Rosemary Welden. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Jan. 16, 2012. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall, Adam Scarimbolo, Jim Dougherty, LaDonna Pettijohn, Raymond Kester.

More Film

  • Don Edkins, documentary filmmaker

    Documentary Filmmaker Don Edkins on ‘Creating an African Voice’ 

    DURBAN–For the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, a new strand was created to look at the unique challenges and opportunities facing documentary filmmakers in Africa. The two-day program, Durban Does Docs, offers a series of conversations, seminars and workshops with an intensive focus on the aesthetics, funding, distribution [...]

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart Director

    Film News Roundup: Olivia Wilde to Direct Holiday Comedy for Universal

    In today’s film news roundup, Olivia Wilde has landed another directing gig following “Booksmart” and revenge thriller “Seaside” and “Woodstock: The Directors Cut” get August release dates. PROJECT LAUNCH Olivia Wilde will direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy project for Universal Pictures with her “Booksmart” partner Katie Silberman. Universal outbid five other studios for [...]

  • Choas Charles Mansion and the CIA

    Amazon Studios Takes Film Rights to Manson-Centered Drama 'Chaos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the grisly murders executed by the followers of Charles Manson, Amazon Studios has optioned film rights to a nonfiction title about a journalist who spent decades obsessively following the case. The studio will adapt “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties,” from [...]

  • Sword of Trust

    Marc Maron on 'Sword of Trust,' Lynn Shelton and Conspiracy Theories

    Marc Maron has interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Obama, so he’s probably learned a few things about being a good interview. Of course, as he points out, he generally has over an hour to talk leisurely speak with his guests in his home and draw out stories beyond the public narrative; it’s a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content