Firstly, I’d just like to thank Co-writer/Director, Desmond Devenish for allowing me early access to an online screener of his debut feature-length, Crime/Drama, “Misfortune”. Misfortune is about Boyd (played by Devenish himself), a young guy whose struggling to make ends meet with his girlfriend Sloane (played by Jenna Kanell). The situation is made worse after he learns that Mallick (Kevin Gage from “Blow” and “Heat”), the man who killed his father, just made parole. Mallick falsely believes that just before partner Roman died (Nick Mancuso), he passed some rare diamonds onto his son Boyd. With some help from his pal Russell (Xander Bailey, also a Co-Writer) and girlfriend Sloane, Boyd aims to track down the diamonds and fence them before Mallick can, what ensues is a cat and mouse thriller across the arid landscape of Arizona. The film also stars Steve Earle from “The Wire”, Vinicius Machado (True Detective) and Carl Bailey.
I’ll admit, I’m partial to a good heist movie, although Misfortune isn’t a heist movie per say. The loot has already been extracted as the film’s opening frames are revealed (so I’m not spoiling anything there), instead, the film centers on what happens from that point forward. Boyd’s father has to make a call on what to do with the diamonds and more importantly, his partner Mallick. It was enjoyable seeing a couple of familiar faces in this one, most notably Gage, who I recently saw in the low-budget creature feature, Gage’s experience is clearly on display in Devenish’s film but I was hoping he’d have more screen time, given his character is crucial to key events in the film. I initially chased up Misfortune because of young actress, Jenna Kanell. Jenna was cast as one of the two female leads in Damien Leone’s upcoming Horror film “Terrifier” (which I acted as associate producer on). She’s starting to get some great roles and therefore I wanted to chase up more of her work and see how she’s doing.
The audio track is clear and consistent, I liked the use of bass in the score too, especially during the films more suspenseful moments. I’ve been through Arizona but never to Tucson, which is where the film was shot. There’s a multitude of nice establishing shots that aid in setting the tone of the story. Desmond takes full advantage of the rural landscape, shooting majority of the film during the day and gauging the perfect amount of light for the night shots. The camera work is another facet of the film that impressed me, creatively speaking. Devenish keeps the framing distance proportionate to the actors and to my surprise, even when the action picks up, he refrains from going to the obligatory shaky cam we’re used to seeing. There’s a lot of really tight and sharp focus shots, I’m not sure what equipment was used but kudos on being able to pull off such a high production value, on what I’ll assume is a fairly modest budget.
The performances in Misfortune are solid across the board. This was my introduction to Desmond, who I must say closely resembles a young William Hurt. He wore several different hats on this project and considering it’s his first full length feature, he handles it all very well. The script starts fast and is mostly well written, Desmond’s sullen demeanor for Boyd, suits his figure. Co-Writer and Actor, Bailey, complements him nicely because Russell has a little more drive and energy compared to Boyd’s often sour attitude. Earle, Mancuso and Machado each only have a small part to play but they do what’s required of them. Bar one other female character seen briefly in the beginning, Kanell’s, “Sloane” is the only outside source in an otherwise male dominated environment. I think Jenna’s character seems to be the most layered and she does her best to present that to you, as the situation progresses from bad to worse. I wish she was given a little more to work with, additional dialogue with Boyd to help the characters grow. So in turn, the third act brings about some revelations that don’t quite hit with their intended punch.