Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks to both Pagemaster Pictures and Christopher Clare from October Coast PR for allowing me access to an online screener of their latest Crime/Drama “Robbery”, Written and Directed by Corey Stanton. Robbery tells the story of Richie, a young slacker and small-time criminal (played by Jeremy Ferdman) who plans a series of robberies to pay off a gambling debt, all the while caring for his father Frank (Art Hindle) who has evolving dementia. The film also stars Sera-Lys McArthur (Arctic Air TV series), Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Listener TV series), Andy McQueen (Fahrenheit 451, and Jennifer Dale.
This is Canadian filmmaker Corey Stanton’s debut feature-length film and it’s one that tackles both addiction and mental health – two issues more prevalent than ever right now. What are we if not the sum of our memories? DP, Jack Yan Chen, who’s notched up quite a few credits inside less than a decade, proves more than capable of delivering a great presentation. His framing and shot compositions are well-handled and the inclusion of some functional establishing shots lay the groundwork for the setting. Both the bar and casino scenes are stylishly lit and Stanton’s final edit comes together quite tightly. In addition, he’s also credited with the music in Robbery, which is an interesting mix of ambiance and ballad driven themes. Piano, guitar, and drums are present while the drama is the focus, and then the switch up of violin strokes and deeper keys come into the fold during the action (the break-ins).
The film’s pacing is generally consistent, and at just 90 minutes it never looks like wearing out its welcome. The combination of 71-year-old veteran, Art Hindle (from The Brood and Black Christmas) and relative newcomer, Jeremy Ferdman (a dead ringer for Lord Of The Rings actor Elijah Wood) go a long way to making Stanton’s debut feature as good as it is – but there’s the writing too. It’s quite rare to see this level of wit on display from a guy who only looks to be in his late 20’s, perhaps early 30’s. After doing a little digging and discovering that he holds a medical degree, it’s now not so much of a stretch. The dialogue is really well-written, and conversations between Frank and Richie, as well as Richie and Winona (McArthur), a girl he crosses paths with at a meeting, are clear evidence of that. The trio has a certain Sympatico with their timing throughout, and each delivers a refined performance. The choice to have Frank turn completely vacant at the drop of a hat was a smart one, and devastating to the viewer at the same time. The final act is particularly clever and I struggled to pick all of the layerings in Stanton’s exposition – I liked that.
From the technical side of things, the only hiccups I noticed were a couple of minor focus lapses during some of the burglary sequences. I’d also like to have seen a little harder edge to the violence, which is brief but doesn’t really hit until the last ten minutes of the film. Somehow Frank is aware that he only has five minutes before he loses his bearings, not sure how? Now whilst I didn’t mind that, I didn’t like that he virtually instantaneously got back on task and snapped out of the fog (so to speak) he was in. I think Corey could’ve been a little more adventurous by complicating matters for the character more than he did. The film is also guilty of stretching the credibility factor when it comes to the third act (final job). Entering the premises of a place you’ve been too many a time before would likely ensure that you’d be recognized almost immediately, and yet somehow he isn’t. If the muscle (for lack of a better word) had been surveilling him properly they’d probably know about both Frank and Winona’s connection to Richie.
Despite its rather nondescript title, Robbery is actually quite an impressive debut feature film from Writer/Director, Corey Stanton. It feels like a more polished version of recent crime films like Michael Matteo Rossi’s “Chase”, and Trent Haaga’s “68 Kill”. The camera work and lighting are both solid, the audio track is clean, and the score is multi-faceted in its assembly. The duo of the experienced Hindle and talented youngster Ferdman makes Robbery an easy to watch and enjoyable experience. The writing is sharp, the pacing is brisk, and the climax is surprisingly fulfilling. There’s not a whole lot to criticize here with the exception of a couple of minor technical hiccups and a few inconsistencies in continuity and plausibility. If you like independent films of the crime and drama nature then I can highly recommend Robbery. It’s now available to stream and watch on VOD (video on demand) and you can check out the official trailer below!