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Friday, August 7, 2015

Love, Milk, Drugs, Hate: Affecting Religious Drama "Profano Nomen" Taps Big Questions

"PROFANO NOMEN" (2015)
Genre: Drama / Religious
Length- 18:10
Company:  Nomen Films & Harrington Talents

Recovering drug addict Jake (Martino Caputo) and his brother, Ezio (Joe Perrino), struggle to keep their plumbing business alive in the middle of a dilapidated section of New York City.

That's a tough act for anyone, but add to that the fact that Ezio's still sore that their father left the business to Jake, and not him, and you've got a recipe for disaster.  The two brothers might be quarreling now, but as time goes on and resentment grows, it's only a matter of time until the collision course really begins.

Is it too late to turn it all around?  Is there still room in their lives for faith in something better?

AMBITIONS GAINED

"Profano Nomen" is a short film written and directed by Caputo, which is a challenging task by any measure, but then to add on the sheer number of actors and shots that we see here?  There are shots of the plumbing business at work, close-ups, moving shots, ensemble bits and fast and witty back and forths.  It's all a bit mindboggling, but Caputo handles it with such aplomb that I must admit, I'm a bit in awe of what he's accomplished here.

This film could have been a complete mess, but it's due to some serious hard work from true professionals -- or at least professionally minded people -- that "Profano Nomen" is not only a joy to watch, but also affecting to watch.

And to sweeten what is already clearly a well produced and executed short film, all Caputo's actors can actually act: there's not a single bad performance on display here.  Sure, a couple lines in his voiceover come off slightly flat, but those are easy enough to ignore.  Caputo himself is easy to like in his role, and Perrino is perfect as the asshole that you despise but can't help but relate to at the same time.

THE TROUBLE WITH AMBIGUITY

"Profano Nomen" is a drama, first and foremost, but it's made clear early on that there will be some religious overtones.

Overtones.  I said overtones.  By and large, the film is played straight -- there are no fantastical elements played with here for 95% of the film.  This is why, when some of the more "out there" moments occur late in the picture, I wasn't completely sold on what happens.

First of all, the reveal with the husband and wife (to say any more would be a spoiler) had very little setup.  The opening shots of the film were meant to be a little bit of foreshadowing, but it was so subtle that there was no way I could have made the connection.  As a result, it just came out of nowhere.

Finally, the concluding scene was jarring, considering the "happy happy" vibe we just experienced with the penultimate sequence.  It left this viewer wondering what we're supposed to conclude from the film, from a thematic standpoint?

I will say I was still thinking about the movie several hours later, so the ambiguity could potentially be considered as much a good thing as a bad thing.

CONCLUSION

"Profano Nomen" is a damn fine short film, especially considering the sheer scope of what he's attempting onscreen.   Even if some of the religious elements feel somewhat heavy handed toward the end of the film, Caputo has captured something special with his camera.

"Profano Nomen" is officially an HONORABLE MENTION for FOREST CITY SHORT FILM REVIEW'S MUST SEE SHORT FILMS of 2015!  Check it out right here!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3.5  / 5.  I liked how Caputo draws a parallel between substance abuse to how the working life affects one's family life -- being addicted to the job, for instance.  The religious angle comes on a little strong and a little too suddenly toward the end particularly considering how realistic the rest of the film seems.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Caputo puts on such a good show here.  Every shot is composed and must have been storyboarded.  He's got a great mix of shots so the eye never gets tired of following these characters around.  Also, loved how, in the bar, we have that last shot of Ezio looking disgusted at his own behavior after making an ass of himself.  It's a redeeming moment and adds so much to the character.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Luke Nelson cuts this thing together really well, but honestly we probably could cut a minute or two out of the beginning of the film -- there's quite a bit of excess "shop" bits at the start.
Sound/Music: 5 / 5. Beautifully recorded.  Sound design is by Jake Bjork.  The soundtrack is nice, and almost sounds like Mogwai.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Really well acted across the board -- this could compete with the big boys.  Besides Caputo and Perrino, we have others to give shout-outs to: James Andrew O'Connor, Rosie Berrido, Ivan Goris, Chris Mullahey, Joe Devito, Tom DiNardo, and Lou Martini, Jr.

Final Grade:  4.1 / 5. 

Don't forget to check out "Profano Nomen" on YouTube and follow its progress on 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!