Reviewed byDiamond_KnightVote: 9/10/10
A tragedy, a work of science fiction, and a satire on mankind's thirstfor knowledge all rolled into one, The Penitent Man bravely asks many"what ifs" without providing every answer. In a world of indie filmsabout umbrellas dancing on water and other tripe, this one stands outas a fine example of what someone who simply loves movies can do.
In Nick Gyeney's sophomore effort, The Penitent Man, it's the summary'scomplex math that is being illustrated.
The story follows the interactions between a young psychologist and histhree foils- his wife, his best friend, and his patient. Gyeney breaksa cardinal rule of storytelling: he tells instead of shows. Thankfully,cardinal rules of storytelling are more like guidelines anyway. Thefilm is 85 minutes of dialog, and no amount of intrigue and suspensecan prevent it from dragging in places. However slow the film's pacemay be, the points of tedium are few and far between; an impressiveachievement for a script that threatens to become a run-on sentence.Gyeney prevents this by giving the audience 10 CC doses of separateconversations, rather than a steady IV.
The center point of the film is Pyatt's conversation with a mysteriouspatient, Mr. Darnell (Lance Henriksen). Through the therapy sessionwhere Dr. Pyatt (Lanthrop Walker) attempts to understand- andsubsequently help- the resigned yet charismatic Darnell, the main plotpoints are revealed in startling succession. A few minutes into themeat of the conversation, and most viewers will understand Mr.Darnell's purpose- if not the whole story. Yet, the wonderful thingabout The Penitent Man is that it is not designed to keep the viewerguessing. The point is not a big reveal towards the end, but rather,the illustration of what Mr. Darnell understands, how it ties with Dr.Pyatt personally, and even how it illuminates mankind. Mr. Darnellspeaks of knowledge, and money, and relationships, and time-travel...yes, time-travel. I'll leave the rest to your imagination for the timebeing.
The strongest aspect of The Penitent Man is- without question- thecinematography. Don't let the opening pan shot fool you; Gyeney isequally gifted with pen as with the camera. Every shot (with theexception of the aforementioned) is aesthetically pleasing. Every editand transition is smooth and easy, like a good liquor, which belies thereal-world experience of this young film crew at Mirror Images. Subtlehints and homages are given throughout the film, but the best part isthat one doesn't have to catch all the little pieces to appreciate thewhole.
The acting of the small cast gets a pass for the super-rich intangiblesthey are forced to contemplate. Even experienced actors like AndrewKeegan ("Ten Things I Hate About You", "O") are not immune to thenotoriously flat delivery that indie films can bring out. Keegan's Ovidis still well-played, especially in the brief moments of levity in aconversation strewn with hypotheticals and abstracts most good friendsdon't often discuss. Walker, a relative unknown from Seattle, does apassable job as the conflicted Dr. Jason Pyatt. Melissa Roberts andAdrien Gamache shine in lesser roles as Pyatt's wife and a mysteriousstranger, respectively. Unfortunately, Roberts' teary monologue andsubsequent thrust-and-parry with Jason toward the end seems a bitcontrived after a generally emotionless first half. Lance Henriksen("Aliens", "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (VG)") is naturally the bestof the lot, playing the part of the (almost literally) world-weary,eternally tormented scientist with delicious poise.
I will forewarn you that there is a secret that is never revealed,which may drive some to madness. But keep in mind when watching- thespectacle is not the point, the story is. This movie does exactly whatthese kinds of movies do best: inspire questions and discussion.
Keep your eye on this director. If this is what Gyeney can do in lessthan a month, on a limited budget, between projects, let's see what hecan do with more money and time.
Reviewed byfender09Vote: 9/10/10
The Penitent Man's gripping story defies standard genre categorizationand breaks all the "rules," providing viewers with an original andextremely effective take on a classic sci-fi question. The film isdriven by stellar performances, especially from the two leads Henriksenand Walker, but The Penitent Man's greatest asset is undoubtedly itsdirector Nicholas Gyeney who managed to make a dialog driven filmabsolutely thrilling to watch. The film's intimacy allows the audienceto share the emotions that play out on screen, creating an intense bondbetween viewers and the characters that only grows as the story unfoldsand we learn more about the personal struggles of the film's mainplayers. When all is said and done, The Penitent Man is an insightfullook at human relationships and most importantly a wonderful cinematicexperience. I can't wait to see what's next for Gyeney and Co.
Reviewed byDiane SteinmeyerVote: 8/10/10
Penitent Man (2010) is a mostly contemporary drama with science fictionnotes, in which well-known actors like Lance Henriksen and AndrewKeegan mingle seamlessly with local Seattle talent.
Without giving much of anything away, here's the story: Mr. Darnell(Lance Henriksen) tries to convey an unlikely message to Dr. JasonPyatt (Lathrop Walker), which could potentially save his marriage, hislife, and the lives of billions of people.
There were a couple of elements of this film that stood out for me. Thefirst was the dialog, by which I mean the writing, sound design, andacting. Penitent Man is dialog heavy, but not to a fault. The writingflows with an enjoyable dramatic cadence and the back and forth betweencharacters, especially those who disagree with one another, arecaptivating to watch and listen to. An aside: Henriksen is not only agood actor, but a great voice talent as well.
The other element of the film that really popped out for me wassetting. While the film was shot in a short amount of time, on a smallbudget, the film manages to create a clear and cogent world, while alsohighlighting some great places in Seattle that hardly made it intocinema.
Overall I enjoyed the writing, sound/music, and settings of the film,and I felt engaged with the characters. The film was a quality creationand I was left thinking/talking about physics and "what ifs" for a fewweeks afterward.
Go watch it already!
The Penitent Man tells the story of psychologist Dr. Jason Pyatt, a man devoted to his work - a man torn from his family. With his struggling marriage and mounting bills, Jason is at a crossroads with the life he has chosen and the life he could have. When one of his clients - the mysterious Mr. Darnell - walks into his office and paints him a repentant tale of future economic and moral collapse, Jason's eyes are forever opened. With the help of his best friend Ovid, he embarks on a personal mission to change the course of his future, and possibly the world, forever.