Or how about when the lead and his significant other, played by an actress who remarkably resembles a good friend of mine from high school, talk about her retaliating over something? That something remains vague and ill-defined, so the entire sequence is just confusing. To be fair, there are probably audience members out there who will find this dialogue compelling and want to join these characters on their meandering journey to nowhere (seriously, these characters end in the same spot they began).
If they can hear it, that is. See, the reason this lady is mad (?) might’ve been mentioned, but all that is heard are the birds’ squawks and the rushing wind. The ambient noises overtake the characters’ speech, so it is impossible to hear what is being said. Sadly, this isn’t a one-off, intentional moment as the sound mixing is potentially the worst I have ever heard in any movie. I watched several scenes more than once, with my ear directly against the speaker to be able to hear the dialogue. That was mostly a futile experience, as it did not help decipher what was going on.
If Drug Train were well-directed, maybe these other shortcomings could be overlooked for a flawed recommendation, but that is not the case. The camera is either uncomfortably, awkwardly close to the actor(s), or so far away it is confusing. Going back to that aviary scene: the couple is on a bench just left of center, and to the right is a bird on a tree branch or some such. What’s dead center of frame, the thing the eye is naturally drawn to? An empty walkway with nothing happening. A friend of theirs or an employee never comes down the aisle. The framing is this appalling throughout.
“…the sound mixing is potentially the worst I have ever heard…”
Did you notice the lack of character names? That is because such trivialities are not of concern here. Seriously, the lead actor’s name is not said until the movie has less than 10-minutes left (or every other time got drowned out by the ambient noises). His name is Alberto, I think. Co-writer Alden Doyle plays him, I think. Sadly, there’s no IMDb page, and the closing credits just list the actors, not their characters’ names. This might be 100% incorrect, but that it is this hard to figure out who is who just proves how unmemorable the whole affair is.
Even worse, despite all the touting of the style and the actors’ freedom, the performances are not very good. Doyle (if he is the lead) is not charismatic enough to command the viewer’s attention during the long stretches of less-than-nothing that happens for the far too long 87-minute runtime. Whoever plays the significant other (again, character name is unknown, and the closing credits are useless) is pretty good and the lead’s best friend, at the end (after the dreadful “okay” conversation), does a commendable job at being genuinely concerned for his friend. But, they are it. The other, roughly half a dozen people that are encountered regularly, don’t feel authentic. However, this might have less to do with the actors and more with the slipshod direction and everyone being unsure of where the story is meant to go.
What is the point of Drug Train? Nobody changes or learns anything. The cinematography is awful, with shaky handheld camera footage being inserted seemingly at random. Add in the piss-poor framing and the disgraceful sound mix, and you’re left with a technically deficient film. Sadly, the dialogue and the acting, the thing the filmmaker is touting as being special about his movie, don’t fair much better, as most of the actors are stilted and the dialogue is pointless; it’s not funny enough to be memorable and is not focused enough to be deep.
Reportedly, the production of Drug Train cost Alden Doyle and Bajin Karim their friendship. As hard as it might be to tell, that would be a far more engaging and urgent story, as it would have stakes. As it stands, Drug Train offers up nothing whatsoever.
"…these characters end in the same spot they began."