USA, 2014, 88 min., Color
The film plays Wednesday 4/15 at 9:15pm as part of the Dallas International Film Fest - Narrative Feature Competition. Tix and info at dallasfilm.org
Writer/Director Cameron Nelson brings the Southwest Virginia farm land to the big screen with Some Beasts. Based on Nelson's own experiences this film offers up stunning visuals and a look into a lifestyle you would have to love in order to live.
Sal Damon (Frank Mosley) is a quiet, introspective man. He tends to the land in what is a communal farming environment. His day is spent mostly alone clearing brush, feeding animals, and maintaining the farms. Though a man of few words his actions and mannerisms say much. He always seems to be lost in deep thought. When he does interact with others there is a calm, easy going nature about him. You know without being told that he cares about people and the land he has been given to steward.
The story allows us to see Sal in many situations. He carries on a long distance relationship with a woman who visits from time to time. They talk of starting a family and building their own place on the farm. You hear the passion in his voice as he talks about the land, his life, and the future. Yet there is something sad and dark always behind his eyes as if he isn't really sure what that future really holds.
This film is beautifully shot and the cinematography plants you firmly in Sal's environment. At times you feel as if you are eavesdropping on his life. Watching him from behind a tree or while hunkered down in the tall grass. Mosley gives an award worthy performance and at times you forget he is acting. The scenes never feel over rehearsed and the movement of the character is so fluid that it seems as if he never knows the camera is rolling.
Nelson's perspective of communal farm life is apparent in the script and directing. He knows what to leave in and more importantly what to leave out. He respects not only the people who farm there but the vocation itself. That respect goes a long way into grounding the actors and the story. His choice to incorporate many of the local inhabitants of the area also give it a realistic vibe.
SOME BEASTS has a spirit and heartbeat that makes it very special.