A smart contemporary thriller with social awareness.
"A man and a woman in any kind of relationship are always at war. It's just a matter of, to what degree." Oracabessa (Brooklyn Sabino Smith)
Although writer/director Richard A. Nelson's progressively harrowing drama, Oracabessa, is on the surface about human trafficking, it is more about suffering through love and loss, the search for permanence in a turbulent and evil world, and gender war, as the quote above affirms. In some ways, this story bears resemblance to his more figurative earlier work, The Endangered (2008), in which troubled mixed races and violence are companions in a dangerous journey through the forest of life.
The titular heroine of the fascinating Oracabessa is the spirit who holds together the parts of loving turmoil. She pursues her music and her righteousness in the face of evil with a quiet perseverance. She gives a natural performance that promises a bright career if she seeks it. Some of the other actors in this thriller are local Columbus, Ohio, artists as comfortable on screen as on the stage. Good casting (Kristina Kopf).
Columbus itself never looked better (Nelson).
Nick (Aaron Geib) and Derrick (Kenyatta Foster) are continually battling for Oracabessa's love while she has to spend too much time conciliating between them rather than seeking out the traffickers. She has seen enough abduction to be able to search, but her domestic struggles, from boyfriends to dad, so dominate it is easy to conclude that the violence each does to the other on a daily basis distracts from life's bigger purpose of loving and protecting one's neighbor.
Nelson has a different approach from The Endangered—He attacks the evil, trafficking, in the form of a thriller with a bright heroine to carry out the retributions. Oracabasse may be less figurative, but it has the aura of a rich contemporary cautionary tale: Don't walk alone and watch for the evildoers among those closest to you. Cynical? Maybe. Real? I'm afraid so.
Such is the ambivalent quest for the good and the beautiful with ever present evil: "Romantic love has to have a practical element to it. If it's unrequited or stops working, then you just kill it and move on." Jerry McNair (Dino Trapodis)
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