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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.21.10] movie review drama

Year: 2010
Directors: Matthew Porterfield
Writers: Matthew Porterfield & Jordan Mintzer
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 1 out of 10

Putty Hill is the first contender for my worst of the festival award, which I just made up. It's an attempt at using the cinéma vérité treatment to tell the story of a grieving working class family who are having to cope with the death of their son and brother by heroine overdose in modern Baltimore, and the build-up to his funeral. The direction is non-existent and the acting is appalling. There is no script and the patience I had for this self-indulgent mishmash disappeared entirely around the thirty minute mark. It was sheer hell.

The film starts with a paintball game after which a teenage boy is interviewed by an off-screen voice. He talks about how his brother was doing real bad and was headed for trouble, that he wasn't too close to him, and spent more time with his little sister. We're then at a tattoo parlour where Mickey Rourke's long lost brother inks some guy, and they talk in muted tones over buzzing tattoo needle about how it's such a shame what happened to Corey, that he was a good boy. From here we meet all kinds of local kids, skaters, preppy girls, little old ladies and even cops out hunting a murderer, but at no point does the film come together. It all remains as fragmented and frankly, unbelievably badly made throughout. The interviews and long shots of general activities and even the funeral itself do not seem real, they don't ring true and from what I read this was a film done very spontaneously, without much planning or writing beforehand.

What it comes down to is that no characters are built, no sympathy created, nothing. Just empty scene after empty scene, so a climactic verbal fight between tattoo-guy and his estranged daughter Jenny at the end is something to be endured rather than a resolution. I was waiting for this to end for 89 minutes. The last scenes involve two girls breaking into a house and walking around occasionally talking about nothing in particular. This was truly baffling I had thought they were the same person throughout the film, but nothing is clear in this film, it's a confused mess.

After the film my friend said, "If they were my friends I'd overdose on heroin too." I asked him what day it was now, and were we still alive?.

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