By Amy R. Handler | September 1, 2013

Chambers Gate is a potentially great story idea, trapped in the confines of occasionally poor filmmaking strategies and a plot that’s needlessly difficult to follow. The problems with the film may in part be due to the fact that it is Charles Ross’ directorial debut, and he hasn’t yet discovered his signature style.

The cinematic plot seems fairly cliché on the surface, but the word “seems” is used here very loosely. Jules Akola (Mukesh Asopa) is a political figure assigned to combat drug trafficking. He consults regularly with a highly pent up advisor whose theatrical impatience makes him seem like a bomb on the verge of explosion. And like many characters in this film, Akola’s mentor isn’t what he seems.

Akola’s fiancé is Prudence Raine (Christine Saade), a beautiful woman who wants to be there for her man, but due to Akola’s hectic schedule, is too easily seduced by ex-boyfriend, Fischer Calmwell (Voytek Skrzeta). Calmwell is a somewhat sketchy minister of sorts—who dwells somewhere amid lust, anger, and cathartic passiveness. Another character of note is Angie Primos (Lee Sanford), an undercover cop (or private investigator) with a smooth sense of purpose and an undercurrent second to none.

All of this should make for a very spicy tale of deception and intrigue, but in spite of brilliant performances by Christine Saade and Lee Sanford, the film drowns in a murky pool of two-person closeups (calling to mind, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), and too lengthy voiceovers, preaching philosophical morality. To add to the confusion is cinematography that bounces between the pristine brilliance of a Terrence Malick film, only to digress into clumsy side-pans and heavy-handed imagery in glass, meant to resemble scenes in Alfred Hitchcock movies.

All that being said, Charles Ross and writer Stephen Banko seem to make a very good team. They should also be commended for attempting to convey complex ideas on screen, so early in their careers. Ross and Banko are obviously great thinkers, who are not afraid to experiment and face opinionated critics who may or may not understand their work. I look forward to seeing their next film.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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