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ReelWorld movie review: The Disciple

23 Feb 2008

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Something serious went down at this year’s Reel World Film Festival – the Canadian premiere of The Disciple. The 102 minute feature drama marks the directorial debut of British performer, Rodney Charles’. The independent film focuses on a group of trans-cultural friends living in Los Angeles, California. It explores many socio-political themes that affect us all today: love, family, identity, relationships and how the choices we make ultimately make our reality… that last bit came from the program. 

In short, through a series of scenes, heavily inundated with subtle symbolisms, the film introduces a group of four friends: Pete, an American mid-western and would-be catholic priest; Jud, a Black European artist; Lisa, a progressive, first generation Polish-New Yorker; and, Mary, a South African … we never find out what she does for a living, but she’s very intense. As the film progresses, the audience comes to learn, like most relationships, these friends have issues. Throw a mysterious long-lost relative, a funky love-triangle and the odd unsolved murder into the mix, et voila! A plotline is born.

Although plenty of tension presents itself along every tangent, Director Rodney Charles demands a great deal from his audience on the side of patience and understanding the issues at hand. On the flip side, one might also perceive this form of forcing the audience members to listen attentively, the way they normally would in reality, as a raw artistic skill. Yes, in spite of a few too many deathbed scenes, and several cheesy over dramatizations, at the end of the day this film still makes you think!

We all know independent producers go through hell. And for those who don’t, now you do! During the Q&A, following the film’s premiere, at the Carlton street theatre – this year’s venue of choice for the Reel World Film Festival – Charles was the spitting image of humility, if there ever was one. As it turns out, from initial script writing to final video edits, the film took just over a year to complete, with Charles’ credit card getting to shoulder most of the burden. When asked to comment on producing his first film, “It is difficult to make an independent – that’s the short of it.” He said with a grin.

A bit of tragedy never hurts, and the message certainly hits home – when people get too wrapped up in their own lives, they fail to see the bigger picture, ignorant of the world around them. More so, than not, people take things for granted; we seldom realize how much we truly appreciated them until it is too late, and they are gone.  Although this film suffers from its characteristically low-budget cinematic flaws, it couldn’t come at a better time.

When news broadcasts feature war in the Middle East, and protests against the up-coming Olympics; The Disciple reminds us of our differences, and humanity’s immense potential for misunderstanding itself. Perhaps, more importantly, this film serves as an example of our ability to forgive each other our differences and come together, in order to serve a greater good. To learn more about the film, its producers and/ or cast click to www.thedisciplemovie.com . Or, sit there and do nothing … chose qui arrive.

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