In 1799, the book Edgar Huntly, Or Memories Of A Sleepwalker was published. The mystery-morality tale written by Charles Brockden Brown was one of the first novels from the relatively young United States of America to be translated throughout Europe. Overwhelm The Sky, directed by Daniel Kremer and written by Kremer, Alexander Hero, and Aaron Hollander is a loose adaptation of the material, supplanting the story from Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Edgar Huntly (screenwriter Alexander Hero) moves to San Francisco to be closer to his fiance, Thea (Nima Slone). Back east, Edgar was a talk radio host, and he agrees to take over the late night timeslot from his friend Dean (Kris Caltagirone) once he settles into his new surroundings. However, doing so is much easier said than done, as Neil (Deniz Demirer), his friend and Thea’s brother, is killed in Golden Gate Park just before Edgar arrives.
Edgar feels inexplicably drawn to the scene of the murder and walks by the area often. It is here that he meets runner Maggie (Catherine Lerza), who is a therapist that offers to help him. More importantly, Maggie is friends with Daria (Tiziana Perinotti), who saw Neil’s body the day he was killed. Throughout the course of his investigation, Edgar also comes across Carmine (Raul Delarosa) whose icy, off-putting exterior ranks him high on Edgar’s suspects’ list. Was Neil’s death a simple mugging gone awry as the police surmise? Why does Edgar occasionally wake up with bruises or unexplained marks on him?
“…Neil, his friend and Thea’s brother, is killed in Golden Gate Park just before Edgar arrives.”
After the opening title sequence is, I was afraid that Overwhelm The Sky was going to be a tough watch. See, while the opening credits play out, there are shots of various locales throughout San Francisco, which is all well and good. What isn’t so lovely, is the sound design while this happens. Someone is either speaking, maybe chanting is a better word choice here, in a low whisper and what is being said is not clear. This has the effect of being annoying to listen to and not lining up with the images being shown.
Clocking in at a hefty 2 hours and 40 minutes, Overwhelm The Sky’s first few minutes already had me irritated at the movie. That is not a great introduction to the world or characters given that it is longer than the likes of Avengers: Infinity War. And the film certainly feels every bit that long. Some scenes could be done away with altogether. When Maggie interviews Edgar, it is a repetitive sequence that does not add to the plot nor story in any way. Other moments are just too long. Without spoiling much, Edgar finds himself in the basement of a specific character. Standing on the stairs, this person espouses on about who he/she is and where they found Edgar. The scene develops into something necessary, though the speech seems to drone on well past the point it is making.
Happily, once the film-proper gets underway, it becomes clear that Daniel Kremer has mounted quite the ambitious and challenging film, on a minuscule budget. The dialogue is very natural and flows in a believable manner. At a poker game, with Dean, Edgar, and Carmine, the attempts at making small talk with the constantly gruff Carmine are both humorous and sets up a few engaging details that payoff further down the road.
“…flashing of images which may, or may not, be dreams Edgar is having, help to affirm the unreliable narrator angle…”
The black and white cinematography, by Aaron Hollander, is gorgeous and adds a classical -noir atmosphere to the film. The flashing of images which may, or may not, be dreams Edgar is having, help to affirm the unreliable narrator angle, which becomes more prominent as the clues about Neil’s death begin to pile up. Of course, those sequences wouldn’t work unless the editing was seamless, and thanks to Charles Thackeray, it absolutely is.
The actors are, for the most part, also quite good. Alexander Hero rarely allows his emotions to show, which might sound like it wouldn’t work. But, as the film progresses and all the pieces fall into place, it is that understated quality that pulls the audience through to the ending. Slone’s fiance character comes and goes throughout the story, but she and Hero share chemistry, which sells their relationship despite not a ton of screen time together.
As the possible murderer Carmine, Raul Delarosa is underwhelming. During the aforementioned poker game, he is meant to come across as unpredictable and with a bit of a temper. However, Delarosa’s intonation and quick talking make his character seem more like a petulant child than a possibly violent man. This does rob Overwhelm The Sky of a certain amount of intensity, which is a shame. The rest of the cast is good to excellent, especially, Lerza as Maggie.
Overwhelm The Sky is at least 10 minutes too long, and the opening title sequence does not impart a good first impression. But, if you can stick with the movie, thanks to a great screenplay, impressive direction, and (mostly) naturalistic performances, there is a lot to enjoy about this subdued mystery.
Overwhelm The Sky (2019) Directed by Daniel Kremer. Written by Daniel Kremer, Alexander Hero, Aaron Hollander. Starring Alexander Hero, Nima Slone, Raul Delarosa, Catherine Lerza, Tiziana Perinotti, Deniz Demirer.
7.5 out of 10 Park Benches