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Scalene
Directed: Zack Parker
Starring: Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall, and Adam Scarimbolo

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Bluntly speaking? Here’s a film filled with great actors whipping up some dynamite performances within a wildly original storyline. The problem you, the savvy filmgoer, must over come is a few of the lower budget snafus. But, do, because everyone involved is doing the best they can (and it shows), within the budget they had.

The film's odd name you may recognize from your SAT vocabulary test. But don't feel dumb if you didn't. Scalene means, “A triangle in which all sides/angles are different.” Which after viewing you’ll realize is very apropos if a confusing nondescript-to-most-of-us marquee title.


Story goes
… Jacob (Adam Scarimbolo) is a catatonic young man. We will meet him in a few minutes, but, we hear about him in the first few frames.

The filmmaker is going to tell the story backwards. Sometimes that makes audiences uncomfortable, other times, it makes for a brain-teasing ride. Like here.

Jacob’s mom, Janice (Margo Martindale) is frankly a bit of a cold fish. She just seems to be that woman you run into on your best mood days that is like a big blue meany of joy kill-filled energy.

At first, as you are shown more of her day-to-day, you figure that crusty persona is a reflection of her situation. She is caretaker to her adult son who does not communicate. Chalk it up to caretaker stress. Doing for another person who basically can not do anything for themselves, can and will take its toll. Here, Janice is also facing many of life’s other menial annoyances; men, work and so forth.

So, mommie dearest hires Paige (Hanna Hall) so she can get some “herself” time. But, Paige starts to notice something’s up in the small family – beyond the stress-induced tantrums of the mom, and the child-like actions of Jacob.

But whose point of view is trying to tell you what?

The film does not make light of some pretty heavy subjects. And, Scalene’s last 15 minutes or so, as the story gets clearer to you, are hard to watch – and not for younger audiences. Your breath will hold, your hand covers your mouth as the reality of what you’re watching will slap you across the face like you've just insulted Orson Welles' genius or something. The subject is very controversial from any angle, and Scalene's filmmakers seem to approach it as such.

Janice aka Margo Martindale is a character actress of extreme talents. Like a Beth Grant, but less typecast; she is found in everything, as everyone, around the others. Trust me, when you see her, you know her. However, I don’t recall watching her in a commanding situation before. And, if Scalene had a better production value, and made it into the hands of those folks that give out golden statues, and reached an audience at release in theaters? Yeah, she’d be sittin’ real pretty. Just proof great actors come in all shapes, ages, and areas. BUt, if ifs and and were pots and pans there'd be no need for dishes; the thought is meaningless.

And the same career building award-winning if-they-saw-the performance can be said of “the pretty girl” Paige - aka Hanna Hall. This actor chickbabe shows you a deep talent and layers herself like an unassuming Napoleon found at the finest café on the street of New York. You can tell Hall’s finally got a meaty role and she’s not letting the opportunity slip by; you may recognize her from a few things. You feel her pain, and see her volleying. That’s an acting talent - to show without over-playing an emotion. In less capable hands, her role could have been a ruining factor. Hall reveals her abilities in one of the most uncomfortable scenes possibly ever shot of a very serious subject matter – from any angle. This young lady is one to watch for. The camera loves her, and she can really play sinister and innocent well; not an easy task for the more cookie-cutter vixens blazon on big screens.

Adam Scarimbolo as the brain injured Jacob may be pulling a Leonardo DiCaprio, in the sense that his ability to not over do a mental disability and deliver, what one assumes, is a well researched performance, tells us he’s clearly on the path to stardom – given the right agent, and choosing the right project natch.

The director, Zack Parker, has decided to present his film ala Memento. If you recall how when you first saw that film, you were confused a bit. But, then your mind went along with its unconventional style of storytelling. And ultimately you were thrilled to follow its path to the discoveries unveiled. Now, Scalene is not as great as Memento (4 stars vs. 5), but, it is pretty gosh darn good. This director has a great future. Give him a budget people!

Snack recommendation: Salmon – it’s brain food

Extras included: Teaser trailer, Theatrical Trailer, Featurette: PERCEIVING REALITY: The Making of SCALENE, Featurette: World Premiere/Q&A at Dances with Films, Featurette: Awards Ceremony at Dances with Films

The Blu-Ray exclusively includes the full three and a half hour PERCEIVING REALITY documentary along with the DVD extras.

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