The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.05.10] review news scifi drama

Year: 2009
Director: Leo Flander
Writers: Leo Flander, Darcy Moran, Finn Stewart, Alois Wittwer
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

I was really impressed with the trailer for Leo Flander’s The Fourth Pillar. A story of a dystopian future in which the government is brainwashing their youth via their education system, the trailer hinted a promising film with an intriguing, if not all together new, premise.

The film begins with a PSA outlining the advantage of the new government run schools and follows up with an introduction to Rheya, one of the film’s central characters. She’s left school and turned to the government schools in hopes of giving herself a better chance in the world. Things start off badly when she meets the head master Dr. Francis Staedler, a man who comes across as more of a military commander than a teacher and when she sees the conditions of her new learning institution, it quickly becomes clear that this school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Uniforms, cells and heavily edited books, are only the beginning. There are disciplinary sessions reminiscent of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and students who never make it back but that’s not scaring everyone off and a few of the students are ready to revolt.

There’s a lot to like of Flander’s first feature film. It’s an ambitious story that could have quickly gotten out of hand but Flander and his co-writers do an excellent job of building the universe and the purpose of the story without losing focus on what’s really important to their indie production: the characters. Though the acting is hit and miss from a few of the key players (particularly Lani Mitchell as Rheya; she’s sometimes great and other times cringe worthy), the script and story fires on all cylinders, building a rich and interesting world without resorting to flashbacks or voice overs. Though there ideas here from many a sci-fi film and book, they’re all used effectively and service the story well.

Small or non-existent budgets are a common occurrences in indie films but Flander and his team work through the limitations to create a world with heavy military influences and stark, bare surroundings; there’s little colour in this palette which ads an air of cynicism to the already bleak story. The limitations are only really apparent in some instances when the audio fluctuates significantly depending on the location of the characters in relation to the camera and though it’s not always apparent, there are a few instances where the sound fluctuations are a tad bit distracting.

The Fourth Pillar isn’t groundbreaking cinema but it’s a solidly entertaining first feature so much so, that I would love to see an expansion on this world, perhaps looking at one of the other pillars of the New State Government. The production shows much promise and director Leo Flander is one to watch.

You might also like

Leave a comment