As The Convict opens, we see David (Dean Temple) breaking into a house. Bleeding from his side, in the garb of a prisoner with the remnants of handcuffs still stuck to his wrist, he heads to a bathroom to dig a bullet out of his side before cleaning himself up and making his way out of the house, doing his best not to be discovered. By the end of the Mark Battle’s short film, we’ll know precisely where he is running to and how far he’ll go to complete his journey.
It’s mostly a quiet study, with moments of calm broken up by sudden escalations of noise or violence (the film opens in this manner, with the quiet of the house disrupted by the sound of the window being broken); likewise David’s interactions with people are awkward in some cases and brutal in others. It’s hard to call him a hero or a villain; he’s a desperate man who has run out of time, and he behaves that way, depending on what the situation calls for. There’s little doubt that he’ll eventually end up right back where he started, it’s just a question of whether he can make it to his destination first.
This is a film that works because of the quiet allure of its lead actor, and the measured way in which it reveals itself. For much of the piece we don’t know precisely what the situation at hand is beyond the broad strokes and what we see. We don’t know the full stakes until the very end of the film, and sustaining that mystery is what keeps the tale intriguing.
In the end, The Convict is a strong short film, showcasing quality filmmaking and a mesmerizing yet often subtle performance by Dean Temple. It charms with its mood, and engages with the casual way in which it reveals itself. A solid piece of work.
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