• Review: RUSHLIGHTS (Original and Director's Cut)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Wed May 18 12:56:16 2016
    RUSHLIGHTS (Original and Director's Cut)
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    [Note: I realized that after I arranged to see this film to review
    it that it is a film that I saw and wrote about on its original
    release in 2013. The director is Antoni Stutz and this is his
    unrated director's cut of RUSHLIGHTS. In the interim the film has
    been re-edited, the sound has been improved, and in some cases
    scenes have been added. What I have to say below in my original
    review still holds true in my opinion. Stutz has taken the
    original twisty story and left it just as twisty. He took some of
    the rough edges and roughened them up even more. The new film is a
    little bloodier and a little stronger and a little more painful to
    watch, but I will stand by the same rating. Oh, and Wikipedia
    defines "rushlight" as "a type of candle or miniature torch formed
    by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. For
    several centuries rushlights were a common source of artificial
    light for poor people throughout the British Isles."]

    CAPSULE: RUSHLIGHTS claims to be based on a true story. I am
    not sure I believe it. Reality is just not that twisty. Billy
    and Sarah, two young lovers, each a little crooked, go to
    flyspeck Texas town Tremo so Sarah can impersonate her
    look-alike roommate. The roommate, recently deceased from an
    overdose, was to inherit a large sum of money. They stand to
    be very rich if Sarah can pull off the fraud. But their
    deception turns out to be just one more thing in Tremo that
    is not what it seems. With more engaging leads this film
    might be one that people would want to see a second time--
    just to get straight all that happened. Co-written and
    directed by Antoni Stutz, the RUSHLIGHTS script keeps the
    viewer guessing. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    RUSHLIGHTS reminded me of early Coen Brothers. When the surprises
    start they just keep coming. Billy Brody (played by Josh Henderson)
    and Sarah (Haley Webb) are young and in love, and both have shady
    pasts. Sarah's roommate, who happens to look a lot like Sarah, dies
    of a drug overdose. Billy finds a letter to the roommate saying she
    is about to inherit a large sum of money from an uncle in Tremo,
    Texas. Billy and Sarah decide that Sarah looks enough like her
    roommate to impersonate the dead girl long enough collect the
    money. The two go to Tremo not knowing the rats' nest of
    complications their attempted deception was about to uncover. There
    they find themselves between their lawyer Cameron Brogden (Aidan
    Quinn) and Sheriff Robert Brogden, Jr. (Beau Bridges), two brothers
    who take opposite views of the young couple.

    This film falls into the "Southern town with lots hidden under the
    surface" category. The lighting is distinctly film noir-ish with
    characters carved out of darkness. The photography is stylish and
    the film looks better than it feels. Before it is over there will
    be a lot of shooting, a lot of violence and even more blood.

    The film would be intriguing but both of the main characters are
    plagued by flat acting. Josh Henderson is supposedly familiar from
    TV's revival of "Dallas", though I cannot say I have seen it. We
    see very little into their characters, perhaps intentionally from
    the script. Perhaps for reason top billing goes to Aiden Quinn and
    Beau Bridges who really are in supporting roles. Perhaps they have
    more name recognition than the younger actors.

    It is not clear that some of the plot twists really contribute much
    to the story. They may be there for surprise value, but if they
    were not there it would be essentially the same story. A few are
    genuine twists. At times the film does not make a lot of sense. The
    script should have said something about how the discovery of the
    roommate's corpse back in L.A. is not going upset their plans.
    Holes in the plans stand there like the elephant in the room that
    nobody seems to think of.

    There is some suspense in this film and I cannot deny there are
    surprises. With better actors this could have been a solid
    thriller. But if the main characters cannot make the viewer care
    what happens to them, the rest of the goings on does not matter

    I rate RUSHLIGHTS a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

    Film Credits: <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1536437/combined>

    What others are saying: <http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rushlights/>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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