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Christoph M. Ohrt,
Carin C. Tietze,
Paul Stehlik Jr.'s religious-themed drama Seasons of Gray tells the tale of a man who has suffered a great many injustices, including being sent to prison after being falsely accused of attacking his boss' wife. After the convict finds himself with the ability to turn the tables on his tormentors, he is uncertain what to do with this power..
Substantive Screenplay and Quality Acting Carry this Above Average Film
Seasons of Gray is the inaugural production of Watermark Films. This film contains many of the hallmarks of a budget restricted independent, yet carries a story that appeals to a much wider audience. Its story is anchored by one of the Bible's earliest redemption stories and was converted into a faithfully written modern screenplay. Seasons of Gray delivers with good core plot lines, laudable acting, and an interwoven theme of pain and forgiveness that carts the audience through its 89 minutes. It is a good movie on its merits and is worth seeing.
Opening on a sweeping ranch in Texas, Brady Gray (Andrew Cheney) is a gifted and favored son among a gaggle of brothers led by Ryan (Jonathan Brooks) and alongside a widowed father, Jake (Mark Walters). The movie quickly establishes the enmity that Brady's brothers feel toward him especially when he is lavished with an expensive gift from their father. In addition Brady has a God given ability to see and interpret dreams. Brady's dreams include a vision of the family seeking Brady's help during some future time of duress. Brady discloses this to his family, who don't react kindly to it, furthering the wedge between Brady and Ryan in particular. The wedge ultimately leads to Brady's expulsion from the ranch and he is left with virtually nothing on the side of the road. Salvaged by a new friend, Chris (Akron Watson), Brady begins to rebuild his life, pursue a coworker (Megan Parker), and achieve some success in his new career. This all comes crashing down as he is framed for a crime he doesn't commit. In prison, as Brady is being ministered to by a small group of men, he comes to grips with who he really is. Strangely, his gift of dream interpretation sets him on a course of exoneration that ultimately ends face to face with the brothers who discarded him.
The movie's main plot line (primarily Brady's response to the circumstances that befall him) is buoyed by Mr. Cheney's commendable and genuine performance. His somewhat low-key approach to Brady has quality nuances, but it also does restrict him somewhat during Brady's peaks and valleys. Overall he is a likable hero. Some of the key family members that drive those circumstances also did admirable work. In this reviewer's opinion, Mr. Brooks deserved more screen time, not only to further the plot, but he was a worthy antagonist as Ryan Brady and his performance brought emotional weight to scenes he was in. Mr.Walters' performance also left the audience wanting more. Seasons of Gray's comedic elements and timing were pleasantly crisp and gave necessary balance to Brady's journey. This aspect was highlighted predominantly by some clever writing and Mr. Akron's talents.
One of the notable aspects to the film was the integration of scenes involving Brady's supernatural dream interpretation. The filmmakers do a good job at integrating this feature to the plot line while maintaining the audience's suspension of disbelief. Some low budget movies with similar aspirations fall short at that juncture, this one does not. In addition, much of the tight and intimate cinematography gives depth and structure to key scenes.
In light of the above praise, the movie is not perfect. It certainly lacks some of the technical and production polish of bigger budget films and more seasoned teams. There is disjointed editing on some transitions, particularly during cuts when significant time elapses. The storyline covers months and years of Brady's life, but from a watcher's perspective, in many respects it might as well have been a hectic three weeks for Brady. Also, the utilization and emphasis of musical score didn't appear maximized. The score played a subtle and underhanded role. In a dramatic film such as this, the musical score communicates emotional range that can be difficult for an actor or a camera angle to capture alone. This shortcoming was offset somewhat by the script and acting, but it was still noticeable. The filmmakers also could have further fleshed out a few plot characteristics and characters. The film was only 89 minutes and as such had room to accomplish this. Underdeveloped themes that come to mind include Brady's brothers' resentment of him, Brady's growing relationship with his prison colleagues, and Jake's anguish and family desperation in Brady's absence. The character introduction for "Bigs" also deserved more elegance and screen time, especially due to his impact on Brady. The combination of these components, along with some emotional scene build-up shots, could have heightened the crescendo of both the film's bottom as well as its ending.
Notwithstanding the above criticisms, the movie was a delightful, hopeful tribute to the Biblical story of Joseph. Its redemptive theme and Christian viewpoint on the hard topic of forgiveness is worth the price of admission and is a promising initial effort by Watermark Films. The movie wisely used its limited resources in the areas it needed to – storyline and acting. It is a meaningful contribution to movie making in light of an era when the industry has produced such a voluminous amount of drivel.
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