Volume 3, Number 14 - April 23, 2013

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Kristopher Stoltz

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Arts and Entertainment Arts and Entertainment

COURTESY OF THE TERRA STUDIO Vicarious Visions: The Penitent Man tells the story of a psychologist who encounters a man with disturbing visions from the future.

Shoestring Budget Sci-Fi Breaks Rules, But Does It Well

By Kristopher Stoltz

The Penitent Man bravely asks many "what ifs" without holding your hand and providing every answer.

In the world of indie films, this one stands out as a fine example of what someone who simply loves movies can do.

The story follows the interactions between a young psychologist and his three foils: his wife, his best friend, and most importantly, his patient.

Director Nicholas Gyeney breaks a rule of storytelling us Miami Dade College film students are constantly taught: he tells instead of shows. Thankfully, the cardinal rules of storytelling are more like guidelines anyway.

The film has 85 minutes of dialogue and no amount of intrigue and suspense can prevent it from dragging in places. The points of tedium are few and far between, an impressive achievement for a script that threatens to become a run-on sentence, much like our last resurrection: The Man From Earth.

But let me take a moment and commend one thing in case that turns you off. The cinematography, good god is it beautiful. Film students can tell that Gyeney used the same resources they had. You can definitely tell it's on a shoestring budget, but it is gorgeous to look at. If the script or concept does not hook you, the way the film is put together will.

I'm going to warn you though, the movie is about asking questions and raising discussions. There is a secret in the movie that is never revealed, but just as how Liam Neeson's The Grey was not about fighting wolves, it's not about the secret reveal. It's all about messing with your head.

Keep an eye on this Gyeney fellow. Like all directors who make marvels with low resources, we want to see how effective they can get in the future.


The Penitent Man—2010—not rated—written and directed by Nicholas Gyeney—starring Lance Henriksen, Lathrop Walker and Andrew Keegan—92 minutes

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