The age-old debate of nature versus nurture poses this question: is destiny ordained by our genetic make-up or our crappy parents? In James Kerwin and Bernadette Hale’s short film, When The Train Stops, a young fugitive, Clive (Darren Jacobs), has reached the end of the line with his apprehension by Deputy Karen Blake(Rekha Sharma) and Sheriff Agnus Crow (Vic Mignogna).
There’s a change in plans for Clive’s transfer back to prison as veteran U.S. Marshal Preston Booth (Michael Forest) takes it upon himself to escort Clive personally. As the duo travels by train, the criminal begins to plead his case as an innocent man but ultimately accepts his fate. Skeptical of Clive’s innocence, their conversation soon wanders down the path of family, regrets, and misplaced priorities.
I like how screenwriter Hale brings heart and empathy to the protagonist, Clive. It’s easy to write off the “criminal” and forget they are human beings with a story that may explain their situation, their mindset, and whether they’re deserving of a second chance.
“…Clive begins to plead his case as an innocent man but ultimately accepts his fate in prison.”
When The Train Stops is a straightforward drama consisting of a series of conversations, but with a few frills, including a manhunt on horseback. I should point out that this is veteran actor Michael Forest’s last film, and he has a meaty role as Booth. His appearance is not long, but his presence makes an impact. The benefit of having an actor, who has been around the block a few times, is that they elevate the other performances, and Forest does just that. Speaking of veteran actors, John de Lancie also makes an appearance and performs a wonderful button at the end of the film. He’s very good in a non-bad-guy role.
When The Train Stops is a heartfelt story of family and an “innocent” man’s failed attempt to be free. Though if you see as many stories about family dysfunction as I do, the ending is a little predictable. I also have a question about the ending-ending. Minor quibbles aside, director Kerwin delivers a touching film with outstanding performances.
"…easy to write off the 'criminal' and forget they are human beings..."