By midlandsmovies, May 28 2020 12:54PM
Directed by Dave Hastings
Sustain is a new feature length drama from local filmmaker Dave Hastings which looks at racism, violence and the complicated and troublesome effects it can have on friends and families.
Brett Dewsbury plays Kieran, a young man whose mixed-race stepbrother Toby (Joshua Sewell) is attacked one evening in a pub toilet by a group of men.
But when the men don’t leave him alone, a second racist attack in a park leads to severe head trauma and Toby’s death. Shattered by this turn of events, Kieran’s life crosses path with the police who struggle to find suitable evidence to pin the crime on the men.
Known to the police, Richard Buck plays Kevin McKenzie whose arrogance rubs off on his brother Roy McKenzie (Matthew Kinson), whilst the pair have had a previous threatening past with a vulnerable local journalist.
At the same time, the caring and sensitive Kieran starts to go through various emotions in order to come to terms with his loss. Distraught at first, his thoughts turn to revenge after he himself is set upon, but we are asked to consider what action he may eventually decide to take.
There are many things to like about Sustain – its subject matter and shocking dramatic scenes nearer the start – but some slow dialogue, lethargic pacing and overall length really hinders at times. It’s sadly frustrating then to see the positives undone in this way.
The second half brightens the visuals a little, but the first 22 minutes of Sustain is set at night or in very dark rooms. Even thriller maestro Fincher lets a little light in at times. Whilst the choice certainly gives it mood, we’re not given any respite and some shots were not as clear as could be.
The location work is really enjoyable, however. A standard semi-detached is all too easy for limited budget filmmakers to focus their drama in. In Sustain though, the filmmakers have used supermarkets, pubs, nightclubs, a mechanic’s workshop and more, and it is this variation that really helps to build the world and increases the scope of the production.
But it’s the pacing again that throws the whole film off balance. Scenes start to lose the intrigue with little character development beyond the basic beats. The simple motivations too are delivered through over-explanatory dialogue. As it is, it could do with some trimming to create a sense of urgency, despite the film eventually coming to a satisfyingly heated conclusion.
With honourable themes of racism, violence and family relationships, Sustain covers a whole range of important issues. I just wished it honed its construction to focus on how these would be delivered in a more engaging way. Sadly, I didn’t feel it ultimately had efficiency in its storytelling to sustain its runtime.
However, credit is more than due to these local filmmakers for completing a feature length film. Large productions are incredibly difficult to complete for sure. The structure is all here, and the cast and crew are obviously talented, committed and throw themselves into their characters and story with a huge amount of passion and hard work.