Film written and directed by: John Meyers Starring: Don Scribner, Stephanie Leone, Jan-David Soutar, Clayton Myers and Nicholas Russell
In the expanse of the independent film market, we very rarely get an invitation to do a review of a film. A few weeks ago, we received a request from a friend of mine, Clayton Myers, to check out a film that he had just acted in called "The Guide". The Guide is a very interesting film that has two men lead into the wilderness by a deer tracker who is losing his fragile grip on reality. This film is not only a brilliant take on survival in the wild, but also as well as survival in real life.
The story is shown mainly from point of view of Joe (Don Scribner), an aged buck hunter living in the wilderness of Northern Maine. It's established early that he's alone and the only member of his family, his daughter Jenna (Stephanie Leone), wants nothing to do with him. Joe is attempting to reconcile this relationship, though as we find out quickly, it's at the worst possible moment. Jenna has just thrown a brick of cocaine into a river to throw police off of her and her "boyfriend's" trail, unfortunately Reggie (Jan-David Soutar) is not convinced of Jenna's fearful excuses and gives her the option to find either his product or the money he would have made off of it. He leaves and Jenna angrily sends Joe away.
We're then introduced to Greg (Clayton Myers) and Charles (Nicholas Russell), brothers-in-law on a hunting excursion, Greg seemingly chomping at the bit to hunt, where as Charles is indifferent to the situation. When they meet up with Joe (their guide), he tells them he can't take them out, due to a family issue. Greg makes him an offer he can't refuse; a large sum of money for 36 hours of his time. Joe, though concerned about the time-frame, can't resist this opportunity to help his daughter out of this situation. Joe agrees to the hunt and they begin their trek into the frozen wilderness.
In this story, we see Joe, whose life has become about lonely repentance, however his past has begun to claw at his already fragile sanity. That, combined with the harsh elements of Maine in dead of winter, begins to play tricks on his mind. We also see the story of Greg, who is working as a desk jockey in a law firm, who sees his chance at the big time by bagging a deer. His obsession and lack of self-interest only further frustrates Charles, who sees this bonding as a waste of time while his pregnant wife sits at home.
Eventually, these points come to head and bring us to a confrontation that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I won't spoil it, but the story starts slow, but definitely come to one of the more satisfying endings I've seen in a movie as of late.
Plot Score: 4.5 out of 5
This film is definitely one key example of mood and situation coloring, with heavy uses of blue tinting (due to the subject material) actually made me feel like the temperature was dropping. The Maine landscape was also featured heavily, with sweeping panoramic shots of mighty rivers, waterfalls and snow covered forests. It was beautiful, but it also reminds you being alone in the cold, with no assistance, can be dangerous even in this grand technological age. A point that is hammered home every time I see a shot of snow-covered valley, its only distinct change is three sets of footprints, a tiny pinprick in the blanket of winter's fury.
Cinematography Score: 5 out of 5
This movie is worth buying, so many good performances and such beautiful scenery. Having said that, I feel that the Reggie is so much of cliched "bad-boy" that it almost deters for the film, it was only after his scene with a gas-station attendant that I could take the character seriously. Conversely, one of the more stellar performances is from Clayton Myers as Greg, you see him as geeky, paper pusher and hearing his story at the beginning only reaffirms this. After he treks in looking for his figurative "white whale" and biting off more than he can chew, his final moments in the film show a changed man, one not likely to take crap from middle management.
Final Word on The Guide (2013) : 4.75 out of 5; Repeat viewing, must-have on DVD.