Directed by: Alastair Railton
Written by: Alastair Railton
Length: 42 minutes
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Between The Divide
Thrillers are hard. Even for those with oodles of money and an A list infused cast. A genre of film that starts life looking good on paper but relies on everything else to sell. Much like the protagonist Eve Fischer (Francesca Louise White) and her current case, a good thriller requires all the clues and queues to fall into place; like some magic ball that always lands in the exact spot you want. Within the first few minutes I was reminded of the film "Se7en" with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. Not because of the story or the actors, but because of the claustrophobic feeling of the film. A lot of closely framed shots helping to create a sense of urgency. "Between The Divide" is a micro budget indie film. Keeping things tight was not only the smart move, but also the only one I can think of. But there was also a lot of dialog in place of money for this production. Without the capital you just can't help that; but I still wish some stricter editing had been used.
This is a story of murder, the ensuing investigation and the inner demons of Detective Fischer. These inner struggles are a crucial arc to the story, and before long we realize the story is all about her. This isn't an immediate connection. We have to go through the process and in this case, the process is the suspects already in custody. Alastair Railton's production immediately has a lot of good things happening, but is slowly bogged down within it's 41 minute length. Being classified as a short film, Railton really should have trimmed things out. A feature film wasn't in the cards, so it's a mystery why 10 or 15 minutes wasn't edited out. It still would have been a short film, with a more selective and realistically better edit. About that...
I found a lot of the conversations redundant. The dialog was not badly written or acted out, just not needed and already said in one way or another. Being completely honest, a huge chunk of the conversation in this title could have been edited right out with no hit to the overall story. Most of these lines are not broken or bad in any way. They just added needless length. I've always held to the belief that if you're not producing a feature length title, keep it as short and to the point as you possibly can. I would rather watch 8 minutes of gold than 16 minutes of rehashed gold. If a feature 'is' possible than sure. Add it all and hope for the best. If not you should try and keep it short and to the point. It's not always about keeping those excellent scenes and performances in the mix. Sometimes it's about scale.
Francesca Louise White along with Rayanna Dibs, Mark Wisdom and even Railton himself are all splendid in their performances. These talented individuals keep the slightly twisty story going, even as your mind begins to suffer a bit from the length. Unfortunately, there are numerous audio issues you have to contend with along the way. I watched "Between The Divide" with headphones and that was probably a really bad decision on my part. A massive amount of dialog, mainly in the "interrogation room" suffered from massive pops in the audio. I could hear almost every time the dialog track was "trimmed" in and out. I've said it before to indie filmmakers and I'll say it again. When adding and mixing audio it's best to sample it from multiple sources, including a low to mid level set of headphones, or some kind of low end audio source. Like an old mono-TV. It's here you'll get the true nature of your mix. Not on a high end audio source of any kind. We don't all use top tier speakers.
For what it's worth, despite some production issues "Between The Divide" was still a thought provoking and watchable title. As a performance driven piece, Railton pays out a lot more success than I was expecting before taking the plunge. Thrillers are hard even for those with oodles of money and an A list infused cast. Attempting and succeeding on this level with so little is a little unnerving. If that is, you are one of the big studios who attempt to keep this genre all to themselves. I would love to see what Alastair and his band of cohorts could do with even a fraction of a blockbuster budget.