Turn the River
Strikingly sincere acting and a beautifully paired musical backdrop carry the story in Turn the River, actor Chris Eigeman's writing and directorial debut.
Set in and around New York City, the film stars Famke Janssen as Kailey, a gritty pool and poker-hustler trying to scam enough money to rescue her 11-year-old son, Gulley (Jaymie Dornan), from his semi-alcoholic and anger-ridden father who is unaware that the two have been communicating for years. Kailey was forced to give up her son at birth in exchange for Gulley's grandmother's word to stop harassing her. Ever since, she's been trying to forge a meaningful relationship with the boy without the family knowing.
The two send each other letters via Kailey's pool-hustling mentor, Quinn (Rip Torn). Kailey's concern for her son's emotional and physical health in his father's care leads her to return to Quinn's pool hall, attempting to raise some $60,000 to buy fake passports that will get them to Canada.
Turn the River excels as an independent film, with sincere and believable acting complemented by a vibrant set. The colors on-screen seem to pop, and if there's a theme in the movie, it's a color: blue. There are blue-lit pool halls, lots of blue shirts, blue walls, curtains and books in Gulley's room.
While often serious, the film is punctuated with humor in the relationships between Kailey, Quinn and Gulley, and the audience routinely responded with laughter. The music, written and performed by Clogs, complements the movie perfectly, building the tension at just the right moments and meanwhile lingering in the background, carrying the movie along.
Turn the River has won awards for Best Screenplay and Special Recognition for Janssen's acting at the Hamptons Film Festival. The film very nearly sold out the 200-seat Bartell Theatre festival's opening day and will re-play Sunday at the same location. Anyone with the time would be foolish to miss it.