Loss Of Essence Image

Loss Of Essence

By Bobby LePire | February 12, 2024

While it may seem Loss Of Essence is in response to the Rust tragedy, it was shot before that unfortunate incident took place. The comedic thriller is Jonathan Breaux’s feature-length debut. The writer-director populates his tale with a handful of recognizable character actors and rising stars, all on the cusp of breaking out. Can the filmmaker maintain control over the tone and make his first full-length film work?

Stewart (Phillip Andre Botello) is an exacting and demanding director. He berates production assistant Tommy (Jadon Cal) at every turn for each mistake, no matter how minute. The indie filmmaker, whose project is about lost love and the horrors of war, is better to his actors. However, after the last scene is in the can, Tommy rebels. He holds the canisters of film hostage until his demands are met. First, he wants to talk to leading actress Rebecca (Kate Schrader) and get a cold drink as it’s quite hot out.

Tommy’s tantrum sparks the fuse of resentment that’s been slowly boiling since the shoot began. Soldier 2 (Kyle Maddox) loses it, especially as he and others are sent on a mission to take Tommy by surprise. The only one with their head screwed on right is Eleanor (Jakki Jandrell), the assistant director and everything else the production needs. She tries to keep the peace, but infighting breaks out all around her. Will the movie be saved, or will Tommy expose the film to sunlight? Is Stewart mean, or did the stress of the shoot just make him leash out?

Loss Of Essence is often hilarious, with the ridiculousness of treating art as more important than human life on full display. The director of photography, another crew member, and Soldier 2 come across a gully. While it is a little steep and deep, one could climb down and back up if getting dirty isn’t an issue. Instead, they knock over a tree to climb across, and Maddox’s character falls off. The sheer ridiculousness is not lost on the viewer or the filmmaker.

Tommy’s tantrum sparks the fuse of resentment that’s been slowly boiling since the shoot began.”

Breaux also maintains the tension of the thriller elements well. In the final scene shot for the movie-within-a-movie, the actor wants a real gun. They get one and take out all the bullets. However, after the scene is filmed, Tommy discovers that there is actually one bullet left, but he doesn’t inform anyone. Tension mounts as audiences wait to figure out what he will do with the bullet and the gun.

Botello is always a welcomed presence on screen. There is something entertaining about seeing him play such a douchebag. He’s fun to hate, and the actor’s innate comedic sensibilities are fully displayed. Jandrell is magnificent as the only level-headed person. She’s pure energy and fun. Maddox takes the odd turn of Soldier 2’s arc and runs with it. He’s shifty and weird in all the right ways. Schrader’s character is so stupid she could have been annoying. But instead, the actor darn well near steals the entire thing. When being told the film won’t be ready for a year at best due to editing, sound design, etc., Schrader plays Rebecca’s confusion perfectly. Cal truly feels unhinged, which keeps all watching guessing his next move.

Unfortunately, a few technical hiccups keep Loss Of Essence from being perfect. When Soldier 2 is clinging to the fallen tree for dear life, his lines are very clearly ADR’d in. This takes the air out of the tanks for the sequence, negating some of its impact. There are also a few odd edits, making it unclear who is where in relation to others.

Despite some issues, Loss Of Essence is hilarious and thrilling in equal measure. The cast is spot-on, and the crazy turns of the story are interesting. While not perfect, this is highly enjoyable, and independent film lovers will be delighted throughout its 73-minute runtime.

Loss Of Essence (2024)

Directed and Written: Jonathan Breaux

Starring: Phillip Andre Botello, Jadon Cal, Kate Schrader, Joel-Steven Hammond, Jakki Jandrell, Kyle Maddox, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Loss Of Essence Image

"…hilarious and thrilling..."

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