E B Hughes
E B Hughes
Max has been serving time in prison for some minor charges including intent to sell drugs. It may not sound like much to say out loud, but fifteen months is still a long time to be in jail. On this day, release day, Max should be happy as a clam in a shell. Only, he's not all that happy. Sure, It's great being out of jail - but the old demons are out with him. For starters, he's still addicted to heroin, and making matters even much worse? He owes his old boss Lucius twenty grand that he stole before being put in jail. The "outside" it seems, isn't all it's cracked up to be - but there's still a glimmer of hope... his friend Ziggy and a new woman he's just met, Sara.
As Max continues to struggle with his addiction, Lucius learns of his release from prison and sends a thug out to retrieve him. Eventually, the two come face to face and after a quick round of Russian roulette, brought on by Lucius's anger, the big boss himself decides it may be better for Max to earn back the twenty thousand he owes. I'm sure you can imagine there are many things Lucius could get Max to do, but I'll leave that for you, the viewer, to see for yourself. While it may be true that this story is not one hundred percent original and unique, that doesn't make it any less of a good film. The short and sweet of this review? I would recommend "The Long Way Back" to anyone who enjoys a good crime drama. It's familiar enough to make you feel right at home, and fresh enough to make it feel like something new and shiny.
The first few minutes of E B Hughes's film were a little rocky. Some awkward feeling edits and transitions quickly garnered my attention, and I assumed they'd be present for the whole film. I was wrong. Very quickly, that quirky feeling I get when something just isn't sitting right vanished, and I was more than happy it did. I did find "The Long Way Back" decided on a very contrasted look - that at first I didn't quite appreciate. As the film progressed, however, I found it added to the movie's moody atmosphere - making the visuals feel real and gritty.
What I really enjoyed when watching Hughes' film were the performances. Denny Dale Bess nails his performance as Max - with a down to earth, definitely not a saint approach to the character. He's flawed as hell and struggles; he also wants desperately to change his life around. His interaction with Ziggy, played by Don Striano, feels damn near flawless. The two really could have been friends for a few decades! On the flip side, Mark Borkowski's portrayal of Lucius is so spazzy that it actually works wonders. How, you ask? Because it allows characters like Reyna Kahan's Sara to really balance out the jagged edges. All in all, I can think of nobody who felt out of place in this film - and that's a marvelous thing when writing about independent, low-budget movies.
At the end of the day? "The Long Way Back" maybe a little familiar, but never enough to stop you from enjoying the movie. It's a well-written film featuring some great performances - what more are you looking for? E B Hughes' movie may not fool you into thinking it's a hundred-million-dollar venture, but sometimes it's not the slick, mechanical feel of a studio movie you want is it? It's the gritty, real-feeling atmosphere only a great indie flick can deliver most of the time. When you feel the need, "The Long Way Back" is definitely recommended. Four stars.