A brief yet tense phone conversation between politically connected powerhouse Tom Buchanan (Mark Grant) and a desperate lower class thug named Judd (Eric Scheiner) over Buchanan's bisexual ... See full summary »
A brief yet tense phone conversation between politically connected powerhouse Tom Buchanan (Mark Grant) and a desperate lower class thug named Judd (Eric Scheiner) over Buchanan's bisexual wife Daisy (Jennifer McCartney), her working class lover Lolita (Christy Scott-Cashman) and Bartlesby (Angel Connell), the enigmatic head of Buchanan's personal security force, results in an interlocking series of actions which culminates in a brutal murder. Thereafter the Buchanans in a subsequent phone conversation grapple with the fallout from the crime, its alleged resolution, and the effect the incident has had on their open marriage. Written by
Eric Scheiner is the only member of the cast who not only had his dialogue recorded during principal photography in 2001 but who also had additional voice-over dialogue recorded in 2010. See more »
The position of the killer's hands shifts twice during the strangulation scene. The first shift occurs from close-up to medium shot as Judd (Eric Scheiner) wraps the nylon stocking around his hands. The second shift happens from medium shot to long shot when Judd wraps the stocking around the throat of Lolita (Christy Scott Cashman). See more »
"Veneer" 's appeal depends on viewers' powers of perception
Angel Connell's "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" tells a complex and non-linear story in a compact eight minutes. The title implies -- and reveals -- a story-behind-the-story. At least, that is what I understand Connell's intent to be.
To grasp "Veneer," the audience must pay rather scrupulously close attention to the intricate connections between the film's five characters, connections depending largely on the elements of sexual betrayal (the relationships involved implied to be particularly lurid and dysfunctional) and murder. This requirement, then, makes "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" a sort of thinking man's crime story. Those more cerebral audience members, able to appreciate the film's unraveling story-telling style, will enjoy the story and welcome the challenge. But this reviewer is not among them. Upon my second viewing of the film at its recent world premier, I found its thread as difficult to follow as with the first viewing. (However, an audience member told me that she had a clearer understanding of the story upon the second viewing.) I wonder that "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" would more successfully tell its story if it were a full-length feature.
One element of the film that I found problematic occurred in the first moments. Writer and director Connell chooses to display on the screen several lines of verse from a curious and ambiguous poem composed by an anonymous author, while the audience listens to crucial off-screen expository dialogue between two main characters. Connell's intent was doubtless to connect the poem's theme of clouded perceptions to his on screen story, but some viewers, myself included, found the technique more distracting than illuminating. In fact, the technique bookends the production. After the audience has seen several minutes of main on screen action, we hear over the closing credits further dialogue, of a more revelatory and explanatory nature -- but for me, just as confusing as the first. I believe that the film's biggest drawback may be this effort to communicate too much information, too elaborately, in too short a time -- and that mostly in audio only.
Though "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" boasts originality and the talents of a dedicated production crew, overall it left me a bit cold. Is this to say that the film is poorly executed? No, it's to reiterate my conviction the the power of the film depends on the audience member's powers of perception and concentration. Connell, an intelligent and creative artist, would appear, as far as I can tell, to believe that the ingenuity of a complex plot communicates a satisfying experience to the viewer. In my case, his efforts left me unable to see beyond the veneer.
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