Judge Michael Nazarewycz would be glad to do himself a favor, but he does't want to owe himself later.
A friend helps you move. A good friend helps you move a body.
How do you resist a tag line like that?
Facts of the Case
Kip (Blayne Weaver, Manic) has a great life. He has a beautiful wife, Claire (Cheryl Nichols, It's In the Water), he's a rising star at his advertising firm, and he has a child on the way.
There's just one problem. The waitress (Rosalie Ward, It's Complicated) Kip is sleeping with is dead in their motel room, the victim of an accidental blow to the head after an argument with him. Not wanting to jeopardize his great life and his greater future, Kip reaches out to his lifelong friend Marvin (Patrick Day, Ernest Goes to Camp) and asks the unemployed man for a favor: dispose of the waitress' body.
And there is the first ten minutes of Favor.
The good news is writer/director Paul Osborne (Official Rejection) understands that how Kip wound up with a dead lover in his motel room is inconsequential. Successful Married Man + Dead Mistress = Conflict. Conflict + Third Party = Complication. Those are the right formulas, and getting to them as quickly as possible is important so the aftermath has a chance to smolder and catch fire.
The better news is that Osborne also understands that while the hook is great, the aftermath can be relatively predictable. Either (a) one of the two people who share the secret use the secret to exploit the other person; or (b) a third person discovers the secret and exploits the other two people, throwing their lives into chaos. To counter this, Osborne uses flashbacks to great effect, one of which throws a "Wait, rewind that!" twist into the story in the first act. It sets up perfectly the chance for the film to either avoid the predictable path or inject something new into it.
The bad news is that Osborne fails to capitalize on his own wicked twist. The second act, while well-acted and shot, is nothing more than a series of scenes that are related to the events of the first act and to each other. Stakes are raised, but never high enough, and they increase at such a glacial pace that each scene could have been the first scene of the second act. The story just never makes it to that next level, and any sense of peril experienced by those who are supposed to experience some sense of peril feels hollow, like a threat you know someone won't make good on. It's terribly frustrating.
It's also terribly unfortunate, because the film's ending is sensational. Osborne throws in a stunning event that is what the middle should have built up to. After the beginning and the end, the middle feels that much more mired.
The 1.78:1 Anamorphic video imagery on the Favor DVD is fine. All nighttime scenes are discernible and present a natural grain, but interior daytime scenes with exterior backlighting wash out a bit. Overall, the images are soft but do not detract from the viewing experience. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is surprisingly good. There is excellent clarity of the primary dialogue and the blend of the film's sparse but effective score with it. It's the ambient sounds, though, that are impressive. Even the slightest of sounds make their presence known.
The Favor DVD is loaded with extras, which is always welcome with an indie release.
* Commentary—Insight and anecdotes are provided on a commentary track by director Osborne and stars Weaver and Day.
* Party Favor (28:51)—Dedicated to the film's Kickstarter backers, this is a raucous behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. It contains a fun mix of cast/crew interviews, clips, and outtakes.
* Phoenix Film Festival Panel (21:05)—Shot live at the festival, the panel is called "Life of an Indie Actor" and features Weaver and Day from this film, as well as John T. Woods from Down and Dangerous. The moderated panel answers questions about and offers anecdotes on everything from they earliest dreams of acting to working with agents.
* Q&A With Cast and Crew (15:57)—This featurette was shot immediately following the World Premiere of the film at the Phoenix Film Festival. The cast and crew field questions from the audience.
* Scoring Favor (2:03)—This one features the film's composer, Joe Kraemer, who offers insight into his process.
* Midnight (3:17)—This is the music video of the film's theme, "Midnight," by Michael Morrow.
* Deleted Scenes (2:45)—This is a pair of deleted scenes, both of which were fine to have been cut.
* Extended Scenes (5:17)—This is a pair of extended scenes that were good to have been trimmed, although both are interesting watches in their long forms.
* Trailers: Two different cuts of the film's trailer are offered.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Patrick Day is the MVP of this film. As the unemployed, rough-around-the-edges man who will do anything for a friend and whose psyche begins to crumble as a result, Day shows great range and subtlety.
The beginning and the end of Favor are so strong it's as if those ideas were hatched first, with the middle inserted out of obligation. The strengths, however, compensate for weaknesses that would otherwise sink the film.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
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