STUDIO: Velocity / THINKfilm
RUNNING TIME: 110 min
People really love Danny Huston.
Danny Huston, Mark Wells, Amelie Warner, Trudie Styler, Ewan Stewart and Jennifer Ehle
Alpha Male is based around the death of Jim Ferris (Danny Huston). He’s a loving man with a kind heart, who provided quite the role model for his son. It’s just that his son had no context for how to live under his shadow. A decade later, Jack Farris (Mark Wells) is struggling to find his way in the world, while his family continues to grieve in different ways.
Lizzie knew that if she tried hard enough, her hair could bring back 1975. If only for a moment.
This film is such a slow burn. When Jack Farris returns home for his 21st birthday, everyone seems out of sorts. Jack’s mother is living in the memory of her dead husband, almost a decade after he has passed. Jack’s sister Elysse is trying her best, but she can’t handle what Jack has become. Flashbacks fill the audience in on the rest, as we watch a younger Jack have to deal with becoming the man of the house after his father’s death.
What makes the film work is the structure of Dan Wilde’s screenplay. Finding a balance between the present and past by collaborative flashbacks allows for an interesting tale to be crafted. Jack Farris is finding himself in the legacy of his alpha male father. When we finally arrive at the moment of Jack’s birthday party, you are left with this since of wonderful awkwardness. No one’s sure what’s going to happen and Jack’s left in the spotlight to settle the past.
Is it Bell’s Palsy or a really good Meryl Streep impersonation? You decide.
The absence of a solid third act kills Alpha Male for me. You get this wonderful scenario of a birthday revelation, but nothing happens. The entire film is built on Jack’s discovery that he doesn’t need to be the perfect man. But, the third act forgets all about this and tries to turn into a forgiveness piece. There’s no need for that shit.
Alpha Male supposedly had a longer Director’s Cut that will probably never see the light of day due to Dan Wilde not being happy with the film’s cuts during Post-Production. You can see where the cuts were made and how simple snips alter a film’s tone. That’s why the faltering third act doesn’t deliver upon the promise of the opening. We never get a chance to see Jack take responsibility and become a man of his own definition. It’s a cinematic cheat.
A rather unpopular backdrop at the Sears Portrait Studio is the Thorne Family Nursery.
Alpha Male arrives on DVD in a skimpy package. You get a trailer and you get the Amaray keep case that houses the disc. I would’ve wanted some featurettes explaining the film’s production and the troubles behind the scenes. But, we’ve got nothing. I hate that feeling of wanting to know more and being handed jack shit from the studios.
The A/V Quality on the DVD is standard for an low-budget film. You get a transfer that doesn’t have a lot of problems, I noticed some edge enhancement during the transition to night-time scenes. But, that wasn’t a major problem. The Dolby track was also clean and didn’t even drop a word of dialogue. What more could you want?
He’s so hardcore that he wouldn’t stand still for this screenshot.
The lack of special features automatically knocks a full point off the final grade for me. I’m sorry, but you should never charge full price for a movie-only disc. You can wave the flag about smaller DVD outlets and their need to make a profit. Well, you know what? If you’re the smaller guy, you’ve got to try harder. You must make better editions with more features and better A/V Quality.
The uphill battle for quality DVDs can only be won if independent cinema and their respective outlets actually try to match the big boys. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to slap something big and loud together. You’ve got to make sure you’re giving the better experience. What I had here was something that came close to great, but ended up blowing a gasket in the home stretch.
One more round of shots and then the operation. After that, I’ll be Ray Wise once and for all.