HERE, NOW – You may be as surprised as we are to learn that we occasionally get free movies and books to review. I mention this because, in full disclosure, SCALENE was sent to us by Breaking Glass Pictures to review. But do not fear, DD reader, as I would never risk damaging my reputation for providing excellent choices in movies and books by recommending crap just to get free stuff.
In the case of SCALENE, a film directed by Zack Parker, I can honestly say you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Not only does it delve into a bit of the headlines often featured on this site, as well as some of the re-occurring discussions they produce, but Margo Martindale delivers one of the best performances I have seen all year. Here’s the official synopsis:
“Told from three points-of-view, SCALENE is a perceptual thriller that revolves around a mother’s revenge (Margo Martindale, Emmy Winner, F/X’s “JUSTIFIED”, Showtime’s “DEXTER”, MILLION DOLLAR BABY) after her mentally-challenged son (Adam Scarimbolo, A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, LYMELIFE, STAKE LAND) is accused of sexual assault by his student caretaker (Hanna Hall, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, FORREST GUMP). This critically acclaimed independent film has been applauded for its strong performances, gripping storyline, and unique structure that takes audiences on a moviewatching experience they have never had before..”
My drug-addled brain must have purged out the definition of “scalene” as the term was familiar, but I had to do a quick Google search to find out. I learned that scalene is not a STD, as I had thought, but rather a triangle with uneven sides — making this a perfect title for this movie. As the synopsis states, SCALENE is a movie consisting of three versions of the same, tragic story and starts exactly as the trailer does below; an older woman, armed with a gun, confronting a young girl in her home.
From there the film works backwards from the older woman’s point of view, detailing how she ended up at this girl’s home. You learn that the woman is Janice Trimble, a single mother raising Jakob, a 26-year-old man with a cognitive brain injury that leaves him with no ability to communicate or care for himself. She hires a young college student, Paige, to babysit Jakob throughout the week so she can go out and get things done, including spending time with her new boyfriend. After her son is accused of raping Paige and ultimately taken from her, she resorts to what you see in the opening scene. Since this is Janice’s point of view, she paints herself in a sympathetic light and seems like a wronged woman justified in her extreme actions.
The second segment is Jakob’s story. Because of the way Jakob’s brain now functions, the story is disjointed and not exactly linear. While it is the shortest of the three stories, you do get a good idea of how Jakob perceives his surroundings and the people in it, plus you get some backstory that include how he received his brain injury and how life for him at home is afterwards.
This leads to the final segment from the perspective of Paige. It’s the longest of the three stories and moves forward to when Janice comes a knockin’. It doesn’t play out the way you think it will, and clouds up events shown in Janice’s story. It details how differently she sees Janice and her relationship with Jakob, and doesn’t paint Janice in a real positive light. Paige really takes a liking to Jakob and wants nothing but the best for him, but we all know what the road to Hell is paved with, and her decisions end up setting off a chain of disastrous events.
This is the only portion of the entire movie I have issues with. It’s engaging and well acted, but Paige’s actions just don’t fit her character. But if running this site has taught me anything, it’s that you should never be surprised at the lowest level of stupidity seemingly intelligent people are capable of reaching. Because of this, I was able to swallow Paige’s ultimate conclusions a bit better than some of the film’s detractors, even though I had to force them down a bit.
So give SCALENE a go. It’s not a happy story by any means, but does deal with subject matter that is often discussed on this site. Especially when dealing with multiple sides of the same story. It’s also very well made and contains great performances from the entire cast, especially Margo Martindale, who is absolutely amazing. If you happen to watch it, please comment as I would love to discuss Paige’s side of the story. You can pick up SCALENE on Bluray or DVD, or rent it from Amazon for 3.99.