DEANY BEAN IS DEAD
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Katie Armstrong and the team over at OctoberCoast PR for allowing me early access to an online screener of the Comedy/Drama film “Deany Bean Is Dead”, Written by Allison Volk and Directed by Mikael Kreuzriegler. Deany Bean Is Dead centers around a luckless personal assistant, Deany (played by Allison Volk) who is hated by her boss Maxine (Wendy Wilkins) and still hung up on winning back her ex-fiance Tom (Christopher Glenn Cannon). The problem is that Tom’s now engaged to Angela (played by Sarah Siadat) and an accidental invitation to the couple’s impromptu engagement party dredges up past mistakes, not to mention there’s a body in Deany’s trunk that needs attending to. The film also stars Colin Taylor Martin, Paul Tigue, Melanie Leanne Miller, and Paulina Lule.
Deany Bean comes from Volkal Pictures and is marketed as a mix of both crime and comedy. Whilst it does have elements of each, the film is much more a drama about identifying one’s self-worth and ultimately taking those steps in order to find happiness within. The film has consistently good framing and a number of really nice wide shots that are complemented by subtle and well-placed lighting. The eccentric strings and percussive based score was performed by Cindy O’Connor (who worked on TV’s “Once Upon A Time”) and are reminiscent of something out of “Very Bad Things”. I particularly liked the theme that plays during Deany’s first attempt to get rid of the body. In terms of music, there’s a pleasant acoustic duet performed by Volk and Martin, both of whom clearly have musical backgrounds. All the performances are generally quite solid, although some of the actors are given more material than others which was a bit of a surprise given the limited number of characters. I think the strongest characteristic in the film comes in the form of a series of voice-overs from a “murder” podcast that Deany has in circulation over the course of the film. In this case, it serves as her thought-process about how to best rid herself of a body, as well as how to conduct herself throughout the film’s awkward social situations. The only downside is that by the end it shifts into a secondary layer of cognizance that somewhat negates its original channel.
Throughout the films brisk 83 minute running time I found myself falling in and out of it mainly due to the presentation itself. Now, before I criticize those behind the camera, I’ll preface this by saying that it could’ve just been the link or video interface I was watching the film from (although I have high-speed rates), but by and large, the cinematography was subpar. It doesn’t appear as though the crew used a tripod or stabilizer in any of the sequences, and consequently, the aftereffect is an abundance of shots and sequences where the image shutters constantly – proving to be quite a distraction. I don’t like to single individuals out in a negative light, and in this particular case, it’s good that the film doesn’t appear to credit any one person with the cinematography. There’s a few chunks of obvious ADR (additional dialogue recording) in here as well and spots where the music sounds like it’s been clipped a fraction. Despite Allison and Mikael’s clear desire to explore the aforementioned themes in an entertaining manner, the end result is sadly a rather lack-luster one. I don’t know if you can put that down at least in part to some mismarketing (in terms of this being promoted as Coen Bros like), or whether it’s more due to the film essentially consisting of one big therapy session where every character is guilty of mixed messaging. None of them are overly strong, nor is Deany all that likable either. In fact, I feel that in order to see her as worthy of audience backing, Volk opted to make most of the other characters even more questionable. From a tone point of view, Deany Bean Is Dead isn’t funny enough to be considered a comedy, nor is it serious enough to be regarded as good drama – and that’s a problem. Sure, the film has an abundance of awkward moments (some provide a chuckle) where multiple characters show there vulnerability, but it’s usually out of desperation and you ultimately just end up feeling embarrassed for them. A couple of other brief things of note, I found Lule’s reaction to Wilkin’s characters seizure rather weak, that and I couldn’t see the logic behind her memory lapse regarding the position at her company (especially considering she had no trouble recalling what Deany had done to her?).
Deany Bean Is Dead feels like a mix of “Weekend At Bernies”, only without the slapstick comedy, and “Very Bad Things” minus the violence. I think one of the issues is perhaps that the film has been made to sound like something it’s not. I think there’s some nice shots here and there, good lighting, and a quirky score to enjoy. Most of the performances are solid and the podcast conduit makes for entertaining potential story direction (although it’s not always capitalized on). Unfortunately, the camera work is the key technical facet that lets the film down (if it is as I witnessed it to be) and ends up being a substantial distraction. The character’s doubts and decision making constantly change on a dime and therefore it makes it difficult to champion any of them. The characterization is thin and many of the actions they take seem far-fetched. As I said, I didn’t find the drama strong enough to carry the piece or the humor spread adequately enough to roll with its punches (some punches would’ve been welcomed actually). Although I personally found Deany Bean Is Dead a little disappointing, others may get more from it than I did. If you’re interested in having a look, the film is now available on-demand from Global Digital Releasing and you can check out the trailer below!
Deany Bean Is Dead – 4/10