Writer-director Steve Johnson presents a weighty scenario with his second full-length feature, Convergence. Martin (Jeremy Theobald) is a successful author who is grieving the death of his wife and child. The person who caused his family’s automobile accident is unknown, and this lack of closure is gnawing away at him. He prints out photos from the scene, cuts out newspaper articles about the crash, and drinks away the days. His agent and friend, Robert (Alfie Wellcoat), gets Martin to go to a bereavement meeting; in the hope that it will coax his friend out of his spiral of despair.
There, Martin meets Lily (Nicolette McKeown), a young woman on the run and grieving her unborn child. Lily is trying to hide out from her abusive significant other Dominic (Lee Fanning). Martin agrees to let her stay at his place. A break is made in Martin’s investigation into the death of his wife and child when Lily recognizes one of the unknown persons in a photo. The photo was taken just before his wife got into the car and crashed. Was that the person responsible? Will Martin seek revenge or absolution?
“The person who caused his family’s automobile accident is unknown, and this lack of closure is gnawing away at him…”
Johnson looks at grief not through who was lost but how the loss of loved ones connects people. While Convergence is not the first film to do such a thing, the way it tells its story is wildly original. Throughout the runtime, the film cuts to the Strategist (Marcus Macleod); an elderly gentleman who moves chess pieces all over. Each piece represents one of the major characters. While it is a bit on the nose as far as symbolism goes, it also adds a particular element of intrigue. Seeing how close the pieces (the characters) get before they finally notice each other is an ingenious way to get the audience involved in Martin and Lily’s relationship before they even meet.
The gorgeous cinematography lends a dream-like quality to everything, so Convergence is an absolute stunner to watch. Johnson balances the magical realism at play with the grounded drama the leads are going through with confidence, so neither overpowers the other. Paul Wilkie’s score is powerful, contributing significantly to each scene.
However, Convergence is the kind of movie that lives and dies by its acting. Alfie Wellcoat comes across as genuinely concerned for Martin and makes the most of his limited screen time. Lee Fanning sells the ill-tempered Dominic’s despicableness quite well, creating quite the antagonist. As the strategist, Marcus MacLeod is only okay. It is a difficult character, and he is certainly trying, but he is over-the-top at times, which breaks the illusion of reality.
“…an impressive, hypnotic film that is equal parts drama and mystery…”
Jeremy Theobald is great as Martin, conveying the character’s anguish and pain believably. His chemistry with McKeown is excellent, and they make for a credible and engaging onscreen pair. It is Nicolette McKeown though, who owns the entire movie. Her going from scared and traumatized to self-assured and take charge is expertly pulled off. McKeown imbues each and every aspect of that arc with tenderness and emotional honesty that resonates with the viewer on a profound level.
Convergence doesn’t exactly do subtle, as it leans heavily on the symbolism. Plus there is one actor that does not entirely sell his character. Beyond that though, Steve Johnson has crafted an impressive, hypnotic film that is equal parts drama and mystery, with fantastic acting.
Convergence (2018) Directed by Steve Johnson. Written by Steve Johnson. Starring Jeremy Theoblad, Nicolette McKeown, Alfie Wellcoat, Lee Fanning, Marcus MacLeod, Anna Kennedy, Jemima Spence, Holly Woodhouse.
9 Gummi Bears (out of 10)