Augusto MaK’s short film, No Place For Weak, concerns the recollection by an aging reporter (Imron Comey) of a fatal meeting. His tale involves two men, Jake Barnes (Andrew Spencer) and Robert Cohn (Tomo Jovanovic). Jake wanders the countryside with a chip on his shoulder, long ago orphaned by the death of this parents, feeling like he has something to prove. Robert is likewise chippy, due to catching his ex-wife in bed with another, which he has taken to coping with by becoming a philandering bastard. They cross paths one evening in a pub, where they both have their eyes on bartender Brett Ashley (Jessica Byrne).
The film plays itself up like folklore, complete with the omniscient narration from the reporter, whose voice sometimes reminds you of Morgan Freeman’s soothing otherworldliness. The stage is set for something epic, but the film doesn’t entirely deliver. With so much build-up, you expect for there to be a better resolution then there is, but instead the film takes you exactly where you think you’re going to go, and then tries to dress it up at the very end to make it seem like it’s really saying something intriguing. Only, it isn’t.
Technically, the film looks okay, and you can tell that those involved tried to do more than just set a camera down and then act in front of it. Editorially, the film seems to slow to a crawl once the two men are both in the pub; it works with the pacing of the storyteller’s set-up, but it does linger. My other editorial issue concerns the number of times the film crosses the line when the two men finally confront each other at the bar; that’s a basic rule of filmmaking, not crossing the line, and the film really has no creative or stylistic reason to break that rule (which can sometimes make it arguably forgivable). Here it results in the visual confusion you would expect, as Jake and Robert jarringly switch sides of the screen as the angles cut back and forth.
Ultimately, there’s just not enough narrative meat to the film for my tastes. Introductions to the characters offer some insight as to why things escalate in the manner that they do, but that’s it. The film doesn’t do much more with those back stories to offer any additional depth or interest into the characters. Little we see in the film informs the characterization of anyone; it’s all in the narrator’s setup, so it’s hard to connect. Ultimately you’re left to wonder why our narrator felt like telling us such a story in the first place; his final realization about the tale might be interesting to him, but for me it left much to be desired.
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