Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Aftermath: Contractors Doing What They Do
Tom Fiorini deals with contractors all
day, so he can’t be a shrinking violet. The housing magnate has done very well
for himself, but he is about to lose everything. We know, because he tells us
in media res. It all started with a bit of workplace trash talking. Labor
relations hit an all-time low in Thomas Farone’s gritty thriller Aftermath (trailer
here), which opens this Friday in New York.
Fiorini is a cold and unreasonably
demanding boss. We know, because his foreman tells us so. Still, everyone on
his construction site stays, because work is heard to find in upstate New York,
especially for an ex-con like Tony Bricker.
Bricker is a sub-contracting framer, not a mason. Initially, he
up-manages Fiorini fairly well. It is the foreman he has issues with—so much
so, he takes a swing at him right in front of Fiorini. When said foreman
mysteriously disappears shortly thereafter, suspicion naturally falls on
Assuming the worst, Fiorini sacks Bricker.
Words get heated, threats are made, and circumstances quickly escalate. The two
detective working the missing person case are not much help, but at least the
sheriff is on Fiorini’s side. In fact, the old lawman is much more effective
than the dodgy muscle Fiorini hires to intimidate Bricker. Frankly, they only
make matters worse.
Clearly, this film has been kicking around
for a while, since it is billed as the final film of Chris Penn, who died in
early 2006. Penn was always a reliable character actor and his work as Bricker
is consistently forceful. However, one cannot help wondering if his unfortunate
passing partly explains why the third act is considerably patchier than the hour
or so that comes before it.
Aftermath is also notable as
part of Anthony Michael Hall’s more successful-than-you-realize career
reinvention. The kid best known for wearing panties on his head in John Hughes
movies is now a rather credible hardnose. Roles like Fiorini and Jack, Du Pont’s
troubleshooter in the disappointing Oscar contender Foxcatcher should solidify his professional evolution. Hey, this is
America, anything can happen here.
In a case of stunt-casting gone bizarrely
right, Tony Danza chews the scenery quite entertainingly as King, an
off-the-books gun dealer and freelance fixer. However, Leo Burmester upstages everyone
as the cantankerous sheriff. On the other hand, Law & Order alumnus Elisabeth Röhm
is wastefully underutilized as Fiorini’s largely disinterested and uninteresting
Aftermath is definitely aiming for a
dark, Blood Simple-A Simple Plan
vibe, but it ends on a note so pitch black, it is a real buzz kill. Again, you
have to wonder if that was the original plan or a salvageable solution. Still,
for those who enjoy indie thrillers inspired by the likes of the Cohen Brothers
and Tarantino, it is worth checking out just to watch Penn, Burmester, Hall,
and Danza playing off each other. Recommended accordingly for jaded viewers, Aftermath opens this Friday (11/28) in New
York, at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Anthony Michael Hall, Chris Penn