Tuesday 22 January 2019

Bailiwick (USA 2017: Dir Tonia L. Carrier)

Occasionally I get asked, out of the blue, if I'll review a film, and I'm always happy to oblige. Which is how I came, courtesy of the Michigan film industry website  mmm2weekender.com, to watch Bailiwick, written and directed by, and featuring Tonia L. Carrier. 

Described by distribution company Pinkie's Kids Productions as 'an ultra-low budget feature film shot in Michigan', it's principally the story of John, a classic 'quiet man' loner, exploited by his boss and shunned by his work colleagues. John visits a travelling magic show and is invited backstage by a conjuring duo, who pass the tools of their trade onto our unassuming hero, with the promise of bestowing great power.

John practises some tricks from a book given to him by the odd pair, and uses his skills to show off to his work chums, slowly integrating him into their circle. But he soon learns that the real gift that has been transferred to him is the ability to make people do what he wants just by asking them. It takes a while for him to believe this, but when he twigs what he can do, it can only be so long before his horrid boss gets his.

Essentially a riff on the classic Twilight Zone episode 'It's a Good Life,' Bailiwick is very ragged round the edges, but everyone looks like they're having a good time, and it feels like a collaborative project. However at over an hour and a half (and with the good stuff only really happening about twenty minutes before the end) Bailiwick is seriously in need of some trimming - not a good idea for the director to also be the editor - which is a shame as with some condensing of some of the more rambling sections this would have been a more fun watch.

As John, actor Dan Gerics does good 'awkward' although his transformation from geek to 'man with the power' isn't as dramatic as it could have been. But the star of the show (a relative term here, certainly) is Nicholas Joseph Mackey as boss from hell Kyle, with his home made haircut and shiny suits, he's a larger than life character who inspires real dislike. Mackey, like many of the cast, is a regular in Carrier's movies, and it's the camaraderie of the group that helps you see beyond the rather crude nature of the production. But as you can tell if you read my site regularly, I'd rather watch an independent effort than a major studio bland out any day of the week.

You can watch Bailiwick here

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