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The Retrieval

The Retrieval

Genders: Drama, Western, History

Director: Chris Eska

Writer: Chris Eska

Actors: Ashton Sanders, Tishuan Scott, Keston John, Bill Oberst Jr.

Year: 2014
Run time: 92min
IMDB score: 6.7
Updated: 2 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: The Retrieval

Genders: Drama, Western, History

Imdb Score: 6.7

Runtime: 92min

Released: 02 Apr 2014

Director: Chris Eska

Writer: Chris Eska

Actors: Ashton Sanders, Tishuan Scott, Keston John, Bill Oberst Jr.

Box Office: $50.3k

Company: Variance Films

OfficialWebsite

Imdb Link

The Retrieval Available Subtitles

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Dutch subtitles The Retrieval3 years ago
Dutch subtitles The Retrieval3 years ago
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Trailer


Review

Work struggle, love, fear, forgiveness and survival. This film has it all!

10/10 The rich, complex themes in this film gave me a heaping, helping of food for thought. I left the film with greater compassion for the hard lives some of us are born into. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863. It hasn't been long since our fellow Americans lived as slaves. We, their recent descendants, have a long way to go to fully appreciate this history. This is the kind of story that moves us forward.

In the film, the will to survive fights with the powers of love and goodness. In less dramatic ways, these are our daily conflicts. I was deeply moved by the film's complex ending. I will be thinking about it for a long while. The actors are completely believable. The main characters were neither heroes nor villains. They were complicated, like us. It's one of the best films I've ever seen.

2 years ago

Strong execution of strong story around end of US Civil War, however not about slavery and related violence. Not Django Unchained II, but something completely different

10/10 I saw this film at the Ghent (Belgium) film festival 2013, where it was part of the section American Independent. You may wrongly assume this is Django Unchained II, given the key words in the synopsis, but it is something completely different. Its main topic is not about slavery nor its embedded violence. Of course, the environment is unmistakeably derived from the end of the US Civil War, and bounty hunters looking for escaped slaves are present in a prominent role too. Nevertheless, the civil war is not the main issue in this film, but rather the unsettling circumstances and the chaos resulting from it, in which process everyone has to make difficult decisions.

The whole film kept my attention throughout the full 94 minutes running time. It perfectly showed dilemma's that are prevalent in times of war, like who to follow and who to trust. Not the ending you'd expect, however, which is a surprise until the last 5 minutes.

All in all, I cannot say I enjoyed this movie, as "enjoy" would be not the appropriate word for the subject at hand. But casting and acting are spotless, and developments are evenly paced over the time, among which a few you did not expect. I certainly felt drawn into the story along with the main characters, neither of them completely good or bad, just trying to cope with the sorry circumstances. This film ranked 11th for the audience award, score 4.28 out of 5.

There was a Q&A after the screening with director, editor and writer Chris Eska, Below paragraphs are not a review, but only reflect some notes I scribbled down during this Q&A.

Given the uncommon combination of functions, the very first question was how it is to be a director and an editor in one person. His reply sounded logical, since editing is actually where the final film is made. He admitted that it is not easy to cut away good footage. It still is a very difficult process, but marketing pressure dictates rules for the optimal feature film length.

About the writing process: It was not exactly clear from the outset that the US Civil War would become the main subject. Still on the lookout for power structures as a central theme, like in his previous films, and given the 150 years anniversary of the civil war, the chosen subject seems a natural choice only in hindsight. The additional element of black people being used to catch other blacks, just emphasizes the power structure theme, power hierarchies never being simplistic and straightforward.

About casting, especially the amazing young boy, 14 years old at the time, and his first time on screen. Looking for a suitable boy, he went to many schools 200 miles around to finally have him. Subsequently he found out what type of character the boy wanted to be. Everything he needed to play such roles, was taught him on the set. It is a delicate process since you cannot easily unlearn things.

About the obvious realism in this film, the reply was that he attempted to make a more mainstream film. Maybe the art-house variety, but still making a move in the mainstream direction, where it is most important to grab the audience. At all cost, he avoids to be constrained by a genre, like coming of age.

About filming locations: All parts of this film are shot in places that are somewhat symbolic, in the direct neighborhood of the last hold of the confederacy. It proved difficult to find natural spaces, without obvious symbols of modern times, like noises of airplanes or automobiles, or electricity poles and street lights.

2 years ago

THE RETRIEVAL is One of The Best Movies I've Seen.. EVER!

9/10 This has to be the most beautiful movie I've seen in a long time. It's pitch perfect in almost every way.

I saw this film at the 13th Phoenix Film Festival, where it received much deserved awards for directing and the ensemble acting, as well as being voted the audience favorite.

D'JANGO UNCHAINED was about slavery, its brutality, the violence, the humiliation, and the nightmare. THE RETRIEVAL addresses slavery and allows it to be a thread to its story by neither shying away from it nor allowing it to overwhelm the narrative. It's about the bond between two characters and the sacrifices they make.

Every character is rich and real. There's humor, tragedy, a riveting story and beautiful cinematography.

This film deserves to be seen, and everyone connected to it deserves an opportunity to continue their work.

2 years ago

Solid

5/10 I sort of wanted this to be a lot better. It's definitely not a bad film, but it did test my patience together with the fact that it's not really doing anything all that original. Comparisons to 12 Years A Slave are bound to come up, and while the general setting is the same in terms of atmosphere (of course) it's really not the same film at all. The acting here is really good, even if so many of the characters come off as caricatures. Yeah, after the reviews I just wanted this to be better, but as it is, it's not bad. I think it's good, if just that, but the cinematography is really good for an indie and the overall production is too. The script has problems, but that's not entirely surprising.

2 years ago

It's not the usual slavery era movie

8/10 I was initially hesitant to see this movie at first because I mistakenly figured this would be just another movie with the main focus on just the horrors of slavery , but I am glad I did. It does depict some of the aspects of slavery in America, but it also focuses on another aspect that was never or seldom covered in other movies.

The interactions between the main characters; especially between Nate and Will, and their journey are what really make this film. It does have a couple of weaknesses in the story, but overall it is worth seeing.

After the movie, we were treated to a Q & A session with Mr. Tishuan Scott, who plays Nate in the movie, which added more to understanding some of the background in the making of the movie.

2 years ago