“In the Radiant City” Boasts Powerful Performances And An Emotional Ending

 
Direction
7.0


 
Acting
7.0


 
Plot
6.0


 
Execution
7.0


 
Total Score
6.8


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Posted July 21, 2017 by

 
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People returning home, to face deep, dark family issues from the past, has long been a staple in the indie film world. That is probably due, in large part, to the fact that it is relatable for many people. We all, at some point, have left home to pursue whatever destiny is ours, and often that departure is met with sadness, or anger, or even violence.

in writer/director Rachel Lambert‘s film “In the Radiant City”, Andrew Yurley (Michael Abbott Jr.) is the prodigal son. Returning home after twenty years to face his family, which excommunicated him after his testimony against his brother put him in prison for life, Andrew is uncertain of the welcome he will receive. His sister Laura (Marin Ireland) is furious to see him, and even vomits outside the store she works at. His brother Michael (Paul Sparks) awaits his visit, which Andrew isn’t even sure he has the energy for, and Michael’s lawyer (Jon Michael Hill) immediately begins begging Andrew to testify once again (this time on his brother’s behalf), and help get Michael parole.

Right away, Lambert has her audience asking questions. What did their brother do, to end up behind bars? Why is Laura so bitter about Andrew decision to testify against him? Where has Andrew been all these years? Well… the answers come in bits and pieces, and some never come at all. Lambert keeps her film light on exposition, and instead focuses on the emotional trauma left in Andrew’s wake.

We follow Andrew, as he reacquaints himself with his sleepy hometown. Some people recognize him, and others don’t, and he seems to constantly be wrestling with the decision of whether to stay and try to patch things up or to just turn around and go back to his less stressful existence aboard a fishing vessel. Laura, meanwhile, is trying to balance raising a teenage daughter (Madisen Beaty), taking care of her ill mother (Celia Weston), and working an exhausting amount of hours at a local grocery store. Although the movie centers on Andrew and his inner turmoil, Laura’s story ends up just as affecting and Marin Ireland certainly deserves credit for breathing such emotional life into her character.

I don’t mind films that give more questions than answers, and “In the Radiant City” is definitely that. Some people will probably take issue with that, or the deliberate pacing, but my attention was held all the way through. Abbott Jr. and Ireland give such excellent performances, and the cinematography by Zoe White is so mesmerizing, that those two things alone make the movie worth watching. Although independent cinema has an abundance of tales similar to Lambert’s, hers stands out and is a sign that she is a talent to pay attention to.


MikeD

 


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