Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
Three people are held up in a motel room. One of them appears to be a hostage and the other two canít seem to figure out which one is really the victim. Sympathy is the story about right and wrong, but not in a black and white sort of way, this thing has layers.
Is it good movie?
Iíd have to say I sympathize with any director who has to make an interesting film, in a single room, with only three characters. It seems like a near impossible task just to keep it slightly interesting. But somehow, director Andrew Moorman has the ability to do this with Sympathy. In many ways, this feels like an early Coen Brothers flick, especially something like Blood Simple. And the surprising thing about this film is how far it goes when it comes to violence for the last half hour or so. While it may not be as slickly shot or beautifully photographed as Blood Simple, there is definitely some art going on in Sympathy.
The three main characters are all a mystery. First, you have Trip (Steven Pritchard) who has taken a young woman named Sara (Marina Shtelen) as hostage. It seems that Trip has just robbed a bank and needier Sara as an escape. Things donít go according to plan when after Trip handcuffs her to the bed, she somehow gets the key and swallows it. It is painfully clear that she may not be who she says she in. But then again, nobody in Sympathy is who they say they are. Even when another dude named Dennis (Aaron Boucher) shows up, fresh out of prison, you really begin to question who is screwing over who. While the relationships and the question of who really is bad comes up in a clever way, sometime the script by Arik Martin feels a little too obvious and possibly a little contrived. Actually, it is a lot contrived every so often.
But with that, I was impressed with this slick looking thriller. When I began to realize that the three characters wouldnít leave that one room, I was a little surprised. And honestly, for the first half hour or so the film did drag slightly. But oh boy, once it gets going it really livens up. In fact, I was quite surprised at the amount of bloodshed that happens in the final act. And I can certainly say that I was sort of surprised by the outcome. While I had major issues with one particular relationship between the two men, I was involved enough that it was only a minor annoyance.
As far as the performances go, all three actors were able to pull off a few very nice moments. While Marina seems to have more experience than her co-stars, they both faired quite well. I especially enjoyed Mr. Boucher as Dennis. He was a strong choice and not really a leading man type of actor. As much as I had fun with their work, they did seem to chew a little too much scenery while waiting for their big moment, but they helped keep me interested. While director Moorman keeps things moving, he really adds a sadistic side to this world. This is a nifty little thriller that suffers a bit from budget, but it makes up for it in heart. This is definitely worth a look for those looking to expand their horror to beyond slashers.
Video / Audio
I liked Sympathy. The three characters that inhabit one single room are likable enough, and while they tend to over-do-it, dramatically, itíd be sometimes good to step back just a little. Yet all three leads keep things moving and the director keeps things interesting. It may be fun and even a little exciting and original, but yet not all that original. This is a nifty little thriller that is worth holding out for. It may not be perfect, but it works well enough.