Ballast

"Excellent"

Ballast Review


Moody and challenging, this independent drama really captures both the slow pace of life in rural America and the sense of disorientation that comes in the wake of suicide. It's a remarkably moving film, even if it's somewhat elusive.

Lawrence (Smith) is stunned into silence by the suicide of his twin brother Darius, with whom his entire life is entwined. In his mid-30s, he can't imagine going on with their business on his own. Meanwhile, Darius' teen son James (Ross) is struggling in a very different way, mainly because he feels like he never really knew his dad after his mother Marlee (Riggs) banned Darius from seeing his son. These three people are a prickly bundle of conflict and contradictions, and yet their only hope might be to stick together.

Writer-director Hammer wastes no time setting the scene; he throws us right into the middle of the events and leaves us to piece together the back-story through the interaction that follows. This is incredibly effective at pulling us into the events, as we immediately feel vested in each of the central trio's situations, seeing things through all three perspectives as we watch these people circle around each other in ways that are both wary and expectant.

What this also does is remove a central plotline from the film, which might frustrate some audiences. Without a focal point of view, we become observers only, even though the camera work and sound mix are intensely intimate. We identify with the feelings, but we never experience the wave of dark emotion that Lawrence, James and Marlee are going through. But each scene is so intricately observed and finely played that we are gripped by the journeys these fragile people are taking.

Most impressive is the way Hammer captures the setting with such bracing honesty. The town is merely a collection of isolated houses, with neighbours that stick to themselves unless there's some urgency. The conversations are almost invasively realistic: hesitant, awkward, angry, inarticulate attempts to communicate. And all of this combines to create complex characters that behave like real people, both behaving badly and finding moments of hope and tenderness in a desperate situation.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 19th January 2008

Distributed by: Alluvial Film Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 68 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lance Hammer

Producer: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh

Starring: Isa Hoes as Ellen, Kees Boot as Thierry, Teuntje Post as Chloe, Bert Hana as David, Raymonde de Kuyper as Marga, Birgit Schuurman as Anouk

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