THE ARRIVISTE (Dir. Pascal Santschi, 2012)
Now *this* is an independent movie!
First time feature film-maker Pascal Santschi wrote, edited, scored, produced, and shot THE ARRIVISTE guerilla-style on the streets of Brooklyn on 35 mm with an extremely low budget – less than $10,000. You can’t get anymore indie than that.
The film centers on Eamon Speer as a young man on parole, whose hardened criminal brother (P.J. Cross) is missing, and from what we gather in the first few minutes - he has been chopped up into pieces for blackmailing the wrong people.
This leaves Speer as the sole beneficiary on a life insurance policy that he’s told by a slimey agent (Tom Morewick) could get him a “nice chunk of change.” Of course, there’s the issue that all of Speer’s brother’s body has to be found for the money to come through.
Despite Morewick’s pressure, Speer hesitates to sign the papers because he sense something isn’t right, especially because there’s an obnoxious police detective (Gary Devirgilio) snooping around. There’s also a novelist (Mark Fernandez) hoping to capitalize on the situation in a sensationalistic true crime book.
As Morewick tells Speer, “It’s all a bit complicated and confusing, so I won’t go too deep into it.”
Santschi's twisty dark narrative has nary a likable character in sight, yet is an involving film with some sharp writing.
The stiff acting and bad lighting (some night shots were so dark and grainy that sometimes it’s hard to see what’s going on) can be forgiven obviously because of the budget. Many directors’ debuts are saddled with the same issues, but Santschi’s raw talent definitely shines through the often muddy presentation.
While it’s impressive that Santschi wrote and performed the jazzy background music, I wish it wasn’t so bippy and intrusive in some scenes, and it often sounded a little too comic and silly for this material’s tone.
Not to say there isn’t humor, some of it in the form of a loud homeless germophobe (Raymond Turturro) who Speer keeps encountering on the street, and some amusing Tarentino-esue scuffles and gunplay.
THE ARRIVISTE shows a lot of promise for the directorial debut of the ambitious Santschi, and it has something that many much more expensive films can’t even dream of having - true grit.