Al Merten's "Lord Finn" was a tough one for me. A tough one to review for so many reasons. Much like one of it's leading characters Daniel, this flick is not only a quirky piece... but it can be a very long feeling movie. More in terms of pacing than the actual length. And even saying it feels long isn't quite right - more like a feeling of information overload. As a counterbalance to that lengthy feel and odd nature of the film? It also happens to be very well done. I can write that "Lord Finn" will not appeal to everyone. An easier way to describe what I'm trying to say? The casual viewer will either really enjoy this film, or really hate it. Those who consider themselves movie buffs, may have an easier time staying in the middle of the spectrum... so to speak.
Although titled "Lord Finn" referencing lead character Daniel Finley, there are actually a few stories taking place in this film. We also follow a woman in jail, Cheer - and couple (not really a couple) Warren and Jasmine. Is there an actual connection to these individual stories? You'll just have to watch to find out - this is a relatively spoiler free write-up... so what can I write? Well... complexities aside, Al Merten's film is about family, mistakes, hopes and fears. Pretty broad description right? I'll try and elaborate a little more.
The family aspects are literal for two of the stories. Again, depending on how you see things. Daniel and his family deal with his mental states and here, "Lord Finn" concentrates on the hardships of family when dealing with a person - who doesn't quite see things the way we do. By choice or not. The frustrations and anger, sadness and feelings that nothing you do matters. I also noticed "Lord Finn" touches on embarrassment, and shame - deserved or not. We also have the story involving Warren and Jasmine and although not family by blood, there is a weird bond here that at times, feels quite family-like. And like many of us know, sometimes family can mean tragic. Tragic and even familiar - and that familiar life skirts in and out when writing of Cheer's story. But her story, also deals with forgiveness and redemption. As I wrote, "Lord Finn" is a handful to write about without major reveals, but it can also be a little overwhelming to watch. Not because it's confusing to the point of being unwatchable, rather just the information overload. I can say this. Drugs and drug abuse is a recurring theme in this film, in one form or another.
So... regarding the production itself? Not really much to say except what's already been written. This is a very well done piece. Speaking purely on a technical level, especially for an indie film, "Lord Finn" looks and sounds great. It also happens to contain some really excellent performances by everyone it felt. Merten's film contains a large cast, so writing on each person would quickly become tedious - but let me say that nobody felt cheesy or hollow. Generally with a large cast, I focus on who drew me out of a movie - and I can't think of anyone in this case. The truth is that the acting ability of the cast keeps your eyes onscreen... even as you try and sort things out. If nothing else, this picture was cast perfectly - allowing everything to fall into place.
For the casual viewer, the first ten minutes may throw them off. It's a little weird in the way it's put together, but all makes sense later. Kind of. Again, things can be a wee-bit confusing at times. For me? Everything else written aside - this was a movie about life. The theme above all else... is life. Living with imperfections. Trying not to hurt the people you love - and realizing that no matter what you do, someone will suffer. "Lord Finn" is about trying to balance all of that... and stay sane. Even if that means taking things a little too far. So many themes struggling for a very limited amount of screen time.
I struggled with a rating for this, back and forth again and again. Finally, when considering that you really have to watch... really have to pay attention, I decided on a three and a half stars. Well above average, but maybe a little less than what is actually deserved. There's just so much here to think about, and I believe you may get a little more watching it a second time. For those still looking for the hidden spoilers I've slipped into the review, I'll give another clue. Time is one of the things Al Mertens plays with in this film. Well done to everyone involved. A great flick no matter how you slice it.