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Sympathy (2007)


Watching the film Sympathy  has left me completely impressed!  I obviously watch a lot of low budget movies.  Some of them are fine while others are pretty bad.  Most have something to offer and you just have to look past the technical limitations and lack of budget.  I often finish a movie and think, "This was a pretty good story, but there were problems with the filming or editing or acting (or the directing was good, but the story was terrible).  I can't wait to see what this guy does next."  This is not at all the case with Sympathy.  There wasn't a single aspect of the film that had any major problems.  The story wasn't just good, it was incredible!  The acting blew me away.  The filming and editing was amazing.  Even the audio, which is all too often a major problem with low budget films, was very professional sounding with only a few minor volume and clarity issues; nothing any worse than many major budget motion pictures.

Originally a play by Arik Martin, Sympathy was made into a film by director Andrew Moorman.  The process began in the Summer of 2004 and took two and a half years to complete.  The actors were all new to feature film and did an amazing job in this movie.  Marina Shtelen, who is pictured on the DVD cover, is as talented as she is beautiful.  Her ability to display a variety of emotions is simply amazing and her performance in this film should have directors begging her to star in their movies.  Steven Pritchard has a long resume in the world of on-stage comedy, but was brilliant here in his first dramatic film role.  Aaron Boucher delivered a performance with an intensity that you simply don't see in truly independent films.

I don't want to talk too much about the story because I really hope that you will watch this film and I don't want to give away what happens.  However, I will say that the basic plot involves a bank robber named Trip (Steven Pritchard), his young female hostage, Sara (Marina Shtelen) and Dennis (Aaron Boucher), who is a third character that comes into the story relatively early on.  Although I'm reminded of Alfred Hitchcock by some of the stylistic decisions and plot twists, the film also owes a lot to the classic exploitation films of the 1970s.  Still, so much care was taken in the filming and editing that each shot could have been a photograph.  The entire film takes place in a motel room.  While watching the movie, I didn't give it much thought, but it turns out that the motel room was actually a set constructed in a barn to give the crew long term access and consistency of set.  The design was absolutely amazing.  It really felt 100% like an old run down motel!

The filming took about a year and editing took another year and a half.  The time taken on this project is evident when watching the finished product.  It's clear that Moorman was willing to put in the effort to make Sympathy as good as it could be.  While many filmmakers use their lack of budget as an excuse for the quality of their final product, Moorman shows that with a modest budget (under $7,000) you can make a film that's just as professional and just as entertaining as anything coming out of Hollywood today.  The real shame here is that without the money to spend on a monstrous marketing campaign, this film doesn't have the chance that it deserves at mainstream exposure.  I have picked up dozens (if not hundreds) of movies from major video stores and retail outlets that were nowhere near as well made and enjoyable as Sympathy, yet they had the marketing to get the movies in front of people.  I can only hope that someone with the right distribution connections gives this movie the chance that it deserves.

If he never makes another film, Sympathy alone is enough to prove that Andrew Moorman is a passionate and talented filmmaker.

Gore-o-meter rating: 4 out of 5 (Tough to give a number, but very realistic bloodiness!)

Skin-o-meter: 0 out of 5 (No skin)