With this review I conclude my current binge of Richard Powell shorts with his 2012 film Familiar, which was made between his shorts Worm and Heir. After seeing the caliber of his other films I was very intrigued to see how this one would stack up to the others and if he could in fact maintain the high level of quality I’ve come to expect from his films.
Naturally, the film stars Robert Nolan who also played the lead in both Worm and Heir. Similar to his character in Worm, Nolan plays John Dodd, a man who projects a facade of dutiful kindness but inside seethes with hate and disgust, this time for his wife and teenage daughter. As his hateful inner monologue becomes more angry and extreme, the question becomes “how far will he go to indulge the ugliness that lives inside him?”
It’s no surprise that Powell continues to use Robert Nolan as the lead for his films because he once again delivers a spot-on performance that subtly conveys the complex emotions of his character through his nuanced and skilled acting. It is not easy to play a character that is simultaneously hiding his true emotions from the other characters as well as subtly revealing them to the audience, but Nolan walks that line perfectly. Of course, supporting actors are also essential to the success of a film and Astrida Auza and Cat Hostick (John’s wife and daughter respectively) also deliver excellent, realistic performances that help immerse you in the world of the film.
In my review of Worm, I mentioned that although it was in fact a great film there were a few areas I felt could have been improved upon. Powell must have had similar thoughts when he made this because what he has delivered here is essentially a very similar story but with the supernatural elements as well as the brutal, gory climax that I felt Worm was lacking. This also allowed an opportunity for him to employ some gloriously grotesque special effects which look great even by Hollywood standards and are very impressive to see in a short film.
The storyline, which I always consider to be the most important part of any film, was also very well done here. I appreciate that it was well paced and showed what needed to be shown to move the story along without getting bogged down in unnecessary details or allowing the scenes to drag. The story is also genuinely unpredictable and set in a world where truly anything could happen.
Bottom line, another great one from Powell and company. I really hope he’s able to break into feature film territory soon because if he does, he could be the kind of unique and brilliant voice that is always needed out there in a world full of remakes and refuse. My one piece of advice for him would be to maintain his artistic integrity at all costs. The world doesn’t need any more directors of watered-down Hollywood sequels and if he can deliver the same kind of uncompromising brilliance in a feature film that we’ve seen in his shorts, then he just may carve out a place in film history as a significant filmmaker that is talked about for years to come.