×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Great & the Small’

Writer-director Dusty Bias offers an engaging dramedy about lives of quiet and not-so-quiet desperation.

With:
Nick Fink, Ritchie Coster, Melanie Lynskey, Louisa Krause, Ann Dowd.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4794754/

At once starkly eccentric and deeply humane, writer-director Dusty Bias’ “The Great & the Small” offers a sympathetically bemused look at interconnected lives of quiet (or else colorfully voluble) desperation. The time-tripping narrative structure, which becomes apparent only after 30 or so minutes of running time, is a tad too distracting for the movie’s own good, and may cause needless frustration for any viewer who tries to suss out after the fact just what happened when, and why. Still, it’s no small measure of this technically proficient indie’s ability to engage that, yes, many viewers actually will want to make the effort.

At the center of it all is Scott (Nick Fink), a taciturn twentysomething who’s on probation for undescribed petty crimes, and forced to work for Richie (Ritchie Coster), a grandiloquent low-life who operates something or other — it may be a salvage yard or a construction supply company (again, precise details are not the movie’s strong suit) — as a front for a burglary enterprise.

When he isn’t crashing in abandoned houses, Scott seeks shelter with an ex-girlfriend, Nessa (Louisa Krause), who reluctantly agrees to let him back into her life — and, occasionally, her bed — if he agrees to serve as babysitter for her infant son. (Naturally, the father of this offspring is never identified.) Years earlier, the two of them collaborated on spawning another child, which Nessa gave up for adoption when she realized that Scott wouldn’t, or couldn’t, be a father. Even now, he is hard-pressed to master something as basic as changing diapers. But, then again, it’s obvious that Richie missed on learning about a lot of things, like riding a bike or eating pancakes, during a childhood only marginally less traumatic than Nessa’s.

Two other characters — Margaret (Melanie Lynskey), a sad-eyed schoolteacher who’s sleepwalking through life after enduring a heartbreaking tragedy, and Dupre (Ann Dowd), a drawling detective who brandishes her folksy manner like a blunt instrument — also figure into the mix. But to be specific about just how they’re involved would be to spoil some mildly surprising twists. Suffice it to say that Lynskey has a couple of quietly devastating moments, while Dupre stops just short of being too damn quirky for comfort. Meanwhile, Fink subtly reveals Scott’s inner fears and yearnings, Krause effectively plays Nessa as a woman unbound by any need to be subtle about her own revelations, and Coster steals scene after scene by sounding like he’s channeling the spirit of the late, great Bob Hoskins.

And best of all, Bias provides an emotionally and dramatically satisfying conclusion for his dramedy — which takes its title from a children’s book read aloud twice, each time with starkly different impact — by making sure that everyone gets what’s coming to them before the final credits roll.

Film Review: 'The Great & the Small'

Reviewed online, Houston, Feb. 16, 2017. Running time: 104 MIN.

Production: A Breaking Glass Pictures release of a Fahrenheit Films presentation of a Cervidae Films production. Producers: Ted Speaker, Melodie Sisk. Executive producer: Mitch Fink.

Crew: Director, screenplay: Dusty Bias. Camera (color): Chris Mosson. Editor: Bias

With: Nick Fink, Ritchie Coster, Melanie Lynskey, Louisa Krause, Ann Dowd.

More Film

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Threatening to Throw 'Industry Into Chaos'

    UPDATE – The dealmakers appear to be getting nowhere. Negotiators for Hollywood agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved little progress at their seventh session on Tuesday, with a chaotic scenario looming on April 7. “When Guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work [...]

  • Zoe Lister-Jones The Craft

    'The Craft' Remake Finds Director in Zoe-Lister Jones

    “Life in Pieces” star Zoe Lister-Jones will write and direct Sony Pictures’ remake of “The Craft” for Blumhouse and Red Wagon Entertainment. Doug Wick, the producer of the original “The Craft,” will return in the same capacity along with partner Lucy Fisher through their Red Wagon banner. Jason Blum is also producing and his Blumhouse [...]

  • Carol Burnett

    Carol Burnett's Mother-Daughter Story 'Carrie and Me' in Development as a Movie

    Carol Burnett’s bestseller “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story” is in the works as a movie at Focus Features with Burnett, Tina Fey, Eric Gurian, and Steven Rogers producing. Burnett will produce through her Mabel Cat Productions with Fey and Gurian under their production banner Little Stranger along with Rogers (“I, Tonya”). The sibling [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Plans for Agency Pact Expiration: 'There Will Be Difficult Moments'

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent members contingency plans for the possible expiration of its agency franchise agreement on April 7 — and admitted that it may be a rocky road. Members received the letter Tuesday from the guild’s negotiating committee as the WGA and agents were about the hold their seventh [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Entertainment One, Universal to Partner on Home Entertainment

    Entertainment One and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have signed a multi-year, multi-territory distribution agreement. UPHE will serve as the home entertainment distributor of eOne’s offerings across both physical and digital formats. The pact covers film, television, and select family content and includes all sales, marketing, and distribution, spanning the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Spain, Australia, [...]

  • Will Smith Jada Pinkett Smith

    AFI, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation Launch Second Young Women in Film Intensive

    The AFI Conservatory and the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation have partnered to launch the second annual Young Women in Film Intensive. The AFI Campus in Los Angeles will host 45 high school girls for an eight-week filmmaking workshop, where students will receive mentorship from current fellows and working professional alumni of the AFI [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content