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LAFF 2012 Review: Contained Drama 'Four' Explores Issues of Identity and Secrecy

Reviews
by Jasmin Tiggett
June 13, 2012 3:06 PM
3 Comments
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Opening at LA Film Festival this week. In anticipation of the premiere, I also had a chance to speak with lead actor Wendell Pierce, so stay tuned for that interview shortly.

***

Anchored by strong performances by its four leads, Four is an intense and uncomfortable drama, yet certainly worth the watch.

The film follows two couples as they cruise around a glum Hartford suburb on the Fourth of July. There’s Joe (Wendell Pierce), a middle aged married man who arranges to hook up with June (Emory Cohen), a white teenage boy he met on the internet. Meanwhile, Joe’s teenage daughter Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) goes out with former basketball star Dexter (E.J. Bonilla).  Each character hopes for a spark; each has something to hide.

The couples provide balance for each other as the interplay between Abigayle and Dexter (helped by a charming performance from Bonilla), often provides respite from the conflict between Joe and June.  Joe works hard to connect and even inspire confidence in painfully shy June, while Dexter does his best to earn affection from aloof Abigayle. Yolonda Ross also makes a brief but haunting appearance as Joe’s wife and the uniting source between Joe and his daughter.

This is a far cry from anything we’ve seen from Pierce in the past, which could be unsettling to some. But the intriguing part of Four is that it moves beyond dirty secrets and illicit acts to uncover the layers of who characters are, and in the process raises questions of normalcy, sexuality, masculinity and race. The film doesn’t seem to preach, and though the characters’ choices may inspire disagreement or even disgust, ultimately, we understand them all.

Director Joshua Sanchez, who adapted the script from a play by Obie award-winning writer Christopher Shinn, has mentioned his desire for the film to capture the loneliness of suburban life. He seems to achieve this as the story lives - visually and figuratively - in darkness and shadows, playing out against a landscape of parking lots, alleys, and near-empty streets. When Abigayle looks out her passenger window at the gloomy town and struggles to think where they can possibly end up, we wonder the same.

At 76 minutes, Four is a quick but impactful watch. The film will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival this Friday, June 15, with a second screening on Monday, June 18. Find tickets HERE.

Find more info on Four at the film’s website HERE.

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3 Comments

  • mlm | October 17, 2012 11:16 PMReply

    I saw this over the weekend. Still trying to get the images out of my mind. I strongly disliked it. I don't think it was provocative at all. I do also think that the description is not getting to the core of it. To me it felt like it was more about how people use sex to take their minds elsewhere.

  • Ava | June 19, 2012 5:43 PMReply

    For some strange reason, reminds me a tiny bit of that film with Anthony LaPaglia and Viola Davis that I saw years back. The storylines are almost nothing alike but it's probably the entanglements of the intimate cast as well as LaPaglia as the middle age married man in emotional peril. I do agree that Wendell Pierce is highly talented and highly entertaining. In a more just world, he probably would've been at the level of a Forrest Whitaker by now.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 13, 2012 6:49 PMReply

    Wendell Pierce is SOOOOO underrated as an actor it's not even funny.

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