I have great admiration for filmmakers who take risks to push the boundaries of the storying. Admittedly, I’m not an expert in dance or performance art, but I was fascinated by Breton Tyner-Bryan’s ability to tell a story through movement in the short film Invicta. It’s important to know a bit of backstory going in.
Set in New York City amongst the mansions of Riverside Drive, seven mafia wives from across the country convene at the request of an unknown blackmailer. Accompanied by a haunting score by Adrià Barbosa, our mafia wives are situated in front of a Riverside mansion. This gathering begins cordial enough, but quickly the daggers come out. Soon, alliances are formed and broken, secret romances are exposed, all leading to the ultimate betrayal.
“…seven mafia wives from across the country convene at the request of an unknown blackmailer.”
Invicta boasts incredible performances from members of the Breton Follies — Sian Berman, Maya Kitiyama, Emily Ulrich, Savannah Crawford, Susan Olmos Sabel, Samara Steele, and Tatiana Stewart. Each performer found their individual personalities for their characters, yet it feels unified when in a group. Their thoughts, feelings, and dark motivations were beautifully expressed in their movement and facial expression.
I’ll split my critique of the film itself between storytelling and the cast’s performances. My main quibble with the cinematography was the use of the handheld camera. It starts with a pan down of the wives posed on the mansion steps, with the camera shaking the entire time. This is a shot that needed to be smooth. Also, the shaking almost fights with the performer’s movements at times. Also, there are some quick cuts where a performer’s emotions change instantly. I would have much preferred seeing a natural transition from one emotion to the other, as if I were watching this performance live.
That said, Invicta captures the movements of the cast beautifully, especially set against Barbosa’s score. Each performer’s strengths are on full display, and I found myself completely jealous that I can’t move that way anymore. The film ultimately succeeds in telling an engaging and intriguing story all through music and movement.
"…succeeds in telling an engaging and intriguing story all through music and movement."