Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
The collision of American Indian spiritualism and the secular world of the white man's greed always ends in creepy silhouetted specters from the beyond who try to tell us something we really need to hear. Imprint is no different.
Is it good movie?
Shayla Stonefeather is a conflicted woman: one part of her is still the innocent American Indian girl who set out into the white world to get a law degree and help her people, and the other part is the jaded, grown up lawyer who cares more about her career than where she came from. These opposing forces within her come to loggerheads when she goes to visit her terminally ill father for his birthday celebration, mere days after she argues a case that sends a young man from her own reservation to life in prison for a murder he may not have committed. When she begins to see evidence of otherworldy presences in her childhood home, she must learn to listen and interpret before it is too late. Are they trying to tell her about her missing brother, the brother of the condemned boy who has sworn vengeance on her, or are they only in her head?
Imprint is a quiet failure. It doesn’t flaunt its ineffectuality in your face, but does a slow creep of ennui until, about halfway through the film, you realize that you want to stab yourself in the face from boredom. The acting is about par for an indie film, with some players displaying more chops than others, and the whole shebang is shot well enough for a video endeavor. The direction is competent, even if co-writer/director/composer/cinematographer/editor (Jesus, dude) Michael Linn fails to drag a good performance out of lead actress Tonantzin Carmelo. The problem lies with the fact that nothing friggin’ happens. I like a somberly-paced film that takes its time to get to the action, but I also like a film that actually gets to the action. By the time this one gets to its admittedly cool finale, I simply no longer cared.
There is another aspect to this film as well, which I would be remiss in not mentioning, even if it does make me seem insensitive. I am talking about the light coating of sugar-sweet propaganda. The American Indians (if the tribe was mentioned, I missed it) in the film are portrayed as noble and wise, and if they do unsavory things, it is only because the white man drove them to it. I am a white man, and the only driving I do is to work and to get some milk and to take my daughter to her dance class. The only white character in the film is, of course, a total douche. If you want to chronicle a slice of life from a particular culture fairly, like, say, the wonderful Whale Rider, then you need to portray all sides of the argument. Socio-political issues of this nature are not one-sided, nor even quadrilateral. We’re talking decahedron territory here.
Video / Audio
Video: Screener copy, so I'm not sure. Amazon says 1.77:1, Widescreen. It is shot on video, and if you can get over the camcorder feel, it doesn't look too bad.
Audio: Once again, not sure. Amazon lists Dolby under "Format", and they are nice enough to tell us it is in English, with optional Spanish subtitles. So, there you go. Sounded fine to me.
Screener, so, nada.
A decent concept done better elsewhere, with an interesting twist ending that you probably won't be awake to see. Another good example of how being capable of shooting a relatively professional-looking film doesn't always mean you should. If you are in the narrow sliver demographic that this film was fine-tuned especially for, then you will probably want me to go eff myself after reading this review. Well, to you I say, take a number and get in line.