White Knuckles: The Makings of Forgiveness
Seeking to further develop the unique process for which these filmmakers garnered critical attention for their previous effort “Blue in Green,” Sabi Pictures presents “White Knuckles” an exploration of forgiveness in a filmmaking style reminiscent of 2002 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner: “Le Fils,” by the brothers Dardenne. Right from the shockwave at the beginning of the film, the stars in this modern day parable deliver unforgettable performances and Larry Strauss (diagnosed with Parkinson’s in real life) brings his mortality courageously to the screen as William, a stagnant, self-hating man on the verge of great change. His wife Julie, (played by the beautiful Martie Ashworth in a multi-layered, heartfelt performance) is the catalyst of this change her actions shaped by years of inner suffering and isolation. The shouts in this film may shake and penetrate but it’s the silences between these two that truly resonate with a past they’ve never laid to rest. In our heart we hope they can save each other, but in our soul we fear they will do exactly the opposite.
According to Director Kevin K. Shah, this experiment of deep collaboration was fully scripted but evolved during a process of what he calls “dramatic improvisation in the present moment” in an effort to “uncover fundamental emotional truths between characters.” A sort of spiritual approach to filmmaking, Shah interweaves the layers he seeks into a seamless hypnotic hyper-realism, as if the form of this film parallels the inner emotional journeys of Julie and William. Shah’s approach is to carefully rip it all away and the result is nothing short of a relentless and haunting parable about forgiveness. Complementing the performances is the stunning camerawork by cinematographer Zak Forsman and the camera itself is a character in this exploration: effortlessly gliding in and out of scenes and following Julie or William like a child hunting for meaning in the details of the moment; or at least a reason ‘why.’ Ultimately, Forsman’s floating, ghost-like voyeuristic cinematic style searches the face for clues, as if to save us from the uneasy feeling that the tide is rising.
Of note are the several supporting characters that affect William and Julie’s story from their struggling middle-aged son Gabe (played wonderfully by Kelly McCracken) to Dora (the spunky widower with dark ideas played by Sue Gaetzman), to Rueben (the distressed husband of a patient played by Clyde Tull) this entire ensemble of real-life characters jump off the screen and seem to have their own larger stories that exist just outside the realm of “White Knuckles” (as in art or life). Interestingly enough, two of the smaller characters in this film are apparently the main characters in Sabi Picture’s next release to be directed by Zak Forsman called “Heart of Now.”
In “White Knuckles” Ashworth and Strauss take us all on a “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe” type of fearless roller coaster ride until the absolute last breath of the film. Sabi Pictures and director Kevin K. Shah have truly made a miniature masterpiece in the middle of the City of Angels that is a rare must-see for anyone who sees spiritual cinema as art, and art as truth and beauty. For more information visit www.sabipictures.com.
26 January, 2008