On the eve of Rob’s bachelor party, Rob (Dylan Marshall) confronts his best friend Ben (Darren Marshall) over Ben’s longtime crush on Rob’s fiancé Julia (Hayley Richelson). The two friends reconcile quickly, however, and the film jumps ahead to 4 years later, where a disheveled Ben has set up residence in Los Angeles. After receiving a phone call, the film flashes back to New Orleans and the tale from the soon-to-be-tragic bachelor party to Ben’s present condition plays out.
Darren Marshall’s Crescent City is an ensemble drama that sets up a mystery of sorts, but seemingly solves it for the audience very early on. From there, it’s more a case of watching the characters come up to speed with what we think we already know happened, and seeing how it gets better or worse from there. It’s a risky perspective, because it removes a certain level of suspense, and you’re left to just watch the inevitable play out.
Which both works and doesn’t, because it relies on the audience’s acceptance and appreciation of the performances above all else, and some of the performances are more uneven than others. For example, Rob is a bit of a douchebag, so when the tragic happens, you don’t really feel anything for him. And save for Ben and Julia, it doesn’t appear that Rob’s other friends care all that much either.
Then there’s ex-jailbird Billy (Mark Paci), whose one-note portrayal is all menacing stares and barely concealed rage, though at least he’s given more to do than Ty (Garrett Hines) or Holly (Kimberly Laurenne); the former seems to exist solely to stop people from pestering Billy, and the latter is there to be the impetus for a plot turn or two. On the other side, however, Darren Marshall’s Ben and Hayley Richelson’s Julia both handle the film well, though maybe that’s because they’re better written characters than the cardboard-cutout, predominantly hollow plot catalysts that the other actors portray. Which, to be fair to the actors, isn’t entirely their faults; if the characters don’t have much to them to begin with, how much more can you bring. And again, when the film relies on the performances and characters to keep you interested in the story, when one stumbles the other inevitably suffers, dragging down everything.
Crescent City isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a terribly solid one. It has moments of quality here and there, but taken overall it suffers from too thin a story about characters you never really care about, and a late inning plot twist doesn’t do much to improve the scenario at all; it confuses more than it elevates. Still, the film looks and sounds pretty good, and the edit, while being a bit confusing with its leaps forward and backward in time at the film’s opening, actually settles in to a nice rhythm, with some simple visual effects to give it a little bit something extra here and there. Overall though, despite the occasional plus, Crescent City just didn’t come together for me.
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