Cost of a Soul offers no happy endings or a feel-good fantasy world so many Hollywood films offer these days. It provides a peek into a world that is gritty and real...and devastating.
Movie Fanatic got the chance to see this great film at a special screening as part of the "The Big Break Movie Contest" through Rogue and AMC.
The filmmaker who won, Sean Kirkpatrick, captures the essence of what people will do in desperate situations. Shot like a film noir, it still has a truly modern feel and explores the life-after-war challenges people experience when returning home for the first time.
Set in Philadelphia, wounded soldiers Tommy Donahue and DD Davis return home to the slum neighborhood where they grew up. Once home, they realize their lives in American haven't really change and they fall into the same trap they were once in, before leaving for the war.
Tommy meets his daughter for the first time and experiences a different kind of challenge trying to reclaim his life. Meanwhile, DD struggles with his own family issues, trying to keep his brother out of the drug trade that is so common in the area.
Kirkpatrick really embraces the community of the Philadelphia neighborhood in which the movie was set. Instead of shooting in a safer, more convenient area, he shot his film right in the center of all the violence to ensure authenticity. His tactics worked -- as a viewer, you feel completely enraptured in this world, mesmerized and horrified all at the same time.
Throughout most of the films, the two story lines seem completely disconnected, but Kirkpatrick does a great job of connecting the two in a way you would have never seen coming about three quarters of the way through the film.
He also uses great camera work and transitions between the two stories. Instead of a jarring back and forth, he cleverly takes an aspect of one storyline and integrates it into the other one. The result is a creative and naturally flowing narration from start to finish.
Overall, the film is disturbing and hard to watch at times, but it's so hauntingly real that you can't peel your eyes away for even a second.
Cost of a Soul opens in 50 AMC theaters nationwide today (May 20) as part of the AMC independent program, which showcases the best independent films.