Pages

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

M.V.B. Films' "A Compelled Force" an Intense Drama

"A COMPELLED FORCE" (2011)
Length: 7:51
Company:  M.V.B. Films Inc.
Website: Official

* The credits were not entirely clear in regards to who plays who, so I apologize in advance if I've assumed wrong.

COPING WITH THE PAST


David (Bernard Long) searches the Internet for some way to save his ailing father (Ethan Casseus), who lies on his deathbed.  Unfortunately, there is no quick fix scenario.  As we all discover when we reach the age where our parents are on their way out, there is really nothing left to do but sit with them and wait for the inevitable moment to come.

But there's a deeper issue at stake here: David's childhood is marred by horrible memories of his father's physical and mental abuse.  He struggles to cope with the horror of being a battered child and the fact that he still feels love for a man perhaps incapable of returning it. 

It's a complicated emotional web to depict in an entirely visual medium.   "A Compelled Force" -- written and directed by Award Winning Moesha Bean of M.V.B. Films -- has a lot to do in its incredibly brief running time.

So let's hit the ground running, shall we?



 
BIG BRAINS, LOW BUDGET

Bean's "A Compelled Force" rides on its strong, professional presentation.  Bean clearly knows her way around a camera, and she is able to take complicated emotions and present them visually, sometimes to incredible effect.  The opening credits and the shots of David Googling are handled masterfully. 

The brief scenes of poor young David (played by an incredibly effective Lee Strong) being terrorized by his father are heartbreaking.  I literally felt my stomach in my throat.  And the thing is, Bean knows enough not to show EXACTLY what is going on.  It's suggested, and Casseus' strong performance as the abusive father hits the horrific notes right on the head.  It's powerful stuff, and it lasts just as long as it should -- it's not too long, or so short that you don't get the point. 

HIGH POINTS

The soundtrack, provided by Roger Subirana, is absolutely fantastic.  Those cellos in the opening credits lay out the gravity of what we are about to see.  I would love to hear more of Subirana's work.  As a composer myself, I really respect what he's accomplished here.  His score definitely helps the film succeed.


In a lot of low budget films, the acting is the worst aspect of a production.  Here, most of the actors do respectably well.  I've already mentioned Casseus and Strong, but I'd also like to point out LaKesha Hobdy as the visiting nurse -- she is credible and seems comfortable in her role.  The expression on her face when she brings David's father a very important note is pitch perfect.  I'd like to see what she could do with a lead role.

And speaking of lead roles, that brings us to our next section.

TROUBLED POINTS

As powerful as "A Compelled Force" is, there are a few problems that detract from the overall experience.  First of all, Long's performance as David is far too understated.  As it is, it's hard for me to buy the twist at the finale.  Without seeing a strong emotional performance or some kind of foreshadowing to hint at what's to come, the final shot doesn't provide the catharsis I know Bean wanted. 

I must admit there was also some confusion regarding the religious text at the end of the film.  In a strange way, it seemed to back up David's final decision, that somehow what he does is warranted, and that bugged me a little.  I can't go into much more detail than that because if I did, I'd spoil the film, and trust me, you want to see this one for yourself.

 
CONCLUSION

"A Compelled Force" is a solid drama -- it's billed as a thriller on YouTube, but honestly there are no thrills.  It's a serious and thoughtful example of what an effective team of low budget filmmakers can make when they put their heart and soul into what they're doing.

I'm also sad to say that this film is based on a true story, and as someone who understands what this sort of thing entails, my heart goes out to Bean and the others. 

You'll know what I mean after you watch it.

Overall Scores:

Writing: 3 / 5.  The story unfolds quickly, but there's a surprising depth to the events that take place, and clearly a lot of heart went into the writing of this film.  I appreciated that.  The religious text at the end confused me, and without more foreshadowing, I couldn't quite buy David's decision, but overall, Bean did a good job writing this one.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Camera placement was impeccable here, and every scene unfolds before the camera exactly how Bean wants it to.  There's a definite sense of experiencing the director's vision, and that's always exciting whether it's big or low budget.
Editing: 5 / 5.  Brilliant editing, particularly during the abuse scene.  I would not be surprised if tears were shed as a result of the combination of soundtrack, editing, direction and the look of sheer terror on Strong's face.  It's a powerful combination.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  The music kept coming throughout the film, and it's a pretty exciting score.  It's never intrusive, but it does a nice commentary on what we see.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Long's performance as David is too understated, and ultimately unbelievable.  Everyone else put on a respectable show. 

Final Grade: 3.8.  Moesha Bean's "A Compelled Force" is a strong, visually appealing emotional drama that will get you thinking AND feeling.  I appreciated its frank and stylized approach, and look forward to seeing more on Bean's films soon!

To watch the full length film, click hereGet in touch with M.V.B. Films and check out their official youTube page, Facebook page, and Twitter!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!