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‘Americana’ (review)

Produced by Daniel Patrick Carbone,
Matthew Petock, Lisa Kjerulff, Zachary Shedd

Written and Directed by Zachary Shedd
Starring David Call, Kelli Garner, Frank Mosley,
Jennifer Stuckert, Peter Coyote, Jack Davenport

 

Avery Wells (David Call, Tiny Furniture) is an out-of-work film editor who has a very serious drinking problem.

When we first meet him he’s holed up in a remote cabin, beginning his day with a Bloody Mary that appears to be nine parts vodka, one part tomato juice.

He’s screwed up his life personally, as well: his wife has divorced him and forbid him to see their young son.

Enter Calib (Jack Davenport, Kingsman: The Secret Service), who hires Wells to edit his latest film as a favor to the film’s leading lady – and Avery’s sister – movie star Kate Wells (Kelli Garner, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe).

Avery begins doing an okay job of getting his act together but spirals out of control after his sister is murdered right in front of him. The murder is seemingly tied to a tragedy that took place a few years earlier for which Avery was inadvertently responsible.

As a sort of healing process, Avery begins to investigate his sister’s murder and turns up some surprising results.

Pretty good thriller/character study/addiction flick is an expansion of a short film of the same name by writer/director Zachary Shedd. Like many features adapted from short films, Americana feels like it would have been more effective with a shorter running time.

That said, the film also benefits from some breathing room, but said breathing room unfortunately allows the pacing to go slack from time to time.

The excellent cast helps smooth over the slow spots (also on hand is terrific character actor Peter Coyote). David Call is new to me, and I was extremely impressed with his work here. He truly captures the wounded, damaged Avery and his alcoholism feels all too real.

The cinematography (by Justin Charles Foster) and editing (Saela Davis) are also spot-on. (But seriously, there would be no excuse for shoddy editing in a movie about a film editor).

Americana certainly worked better for me as an addiction film than as a mystery/thriller. As a genre film, it has the too-laid-back feel of Soderbergh’s The Underneath (which is also a pretty good film but could have used a shot or two of adrenaline as well).

Still, there are some interesting revelations and suspenseful moments. However, you’ll likely get the most out of the worthwhile Americana if you go in expecting a solid, well-acted film about alcoholism. It’s somber but engrossing.

 

Americana is available now on DVD, VOD and Digital HD

 

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