A man discovers that his wife kept a somewhat significant secret from him: she was previously married. She denies it. The wife has her own trump card: her husband is having an affair with a woman at his workplace. He denies it. The wife abruptly disappears and the husband, when confronted by his brother-in-law and a private detective, denies knowing her whereabouts. Then, the woman that was supposedly having the affair with the husband goes missing, and he denies knowing her whereabouts when he is confronted by her fiancé. But the wife abruptly returns, leaving a trail of unanswered questions that she prefers to ignore.

Writer/director Pablo D’Stair has crafted an intriguing story where lies and obfuscations suffocate a marriage and stain the lives of those surrounding the troubled couple. D’Stair employs the intentionally low-fi style of his debut feature “A Public Ransom” – grainy monochromatic visuals and an audio track with distracting hisses and humming – which gives the viewer the impression of spying via surveillance cameras on a marital meltdown. This is a bit too artsy for my tastes, though I can respect the filmmaker’s effort to create a look that stands apart from the cookie-cutter mold that shapes too many indie films.

The one real complaint here involves an ensemble that mostly overplays its roles – especially Carlyle Edwards as the beleaguered husband, who seems to be doing a bad Jack Nicholson imitation while smoking enough cigarettes to keep Phillip Morris is business for the next five years. With a more subtle cast, the film would have been far more effective by the time the story reached its gut-punch denouement. As it stands, the film feels like a rehearsal for what could easily be a devastating experience.

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