The purpose of film is to tell a story and on the independent level, it is where you find the desperate storyteller attempting to get his tale out. The transition from paper to film can be a rocky one, but when the story is good, everything else is secondary. I get the opportunity to view a lot of independent film and the majority tends to be very bad, because anyone can make a film with the technology available, but not everyone is a storyteller. The storytellers stand out and a film that I came across called “BROTHERS IN COMMUNION” is just one of those movies that were created by people with heart and a tale to tell.
The film was written and directed by Rich Dumont and the story revolves around Voodoo (Chris Lobdell), a young man that has a serious drug problem and cannot find a way to defeat it. In actuality, he doesn’t want to defeat it.
We begin in a prison where Voodoo is being held and two foul-mouthed guards that stop his escape attempt. I mention foul-mouthed because it was a little bit much to start a film. I get a feeling that there was a little bit of ad-libbing going on with the guards and it was expressed with excessive profanity. This trend did not continue and the story progressed.
Voodoo, after taking his dog for a walk and a shot of the dog doing his business, meets up with Laurel (Allison Luke), and the two moves in together and although they share drugs upon occasion, Voodoo takes it a step farther and begins doing crack and the relationship begins to self destruct. At one point, Voodoo takes a car from a dealership and joy rides with it, prompting the police to show up and his antics and abuse get worse and worse, until finally Laurel has enough.
Living in his car, he heads from Boston to San Diego to be with his brother, Stick (Rich Dumont), and he’s in no better shape. He has also lived a seedy life of drug abuse and only encourages the problem that his brother has by taking him to raves and bringing him into a group of junkies, where there was plenty of access to drugs.
The tragic life of Voodoo continues as his brother dies from an overdose and he is ejected from his group, landing in a holding cell for pulling a box cutter on a random guy on a bench. The rest of his story is written inside of that cell.
The positive definitely outweighs the negative in this film. First, I was very impressed with Chris Lobdell, very believable in that role and his performance really stood out. I also liked the dialogue in this film delivered by the character of Voodoo. I have known a lot of junkies and they all tend to ramble on, believing that they are enlightening people with their opinions, but any sober person would see it for what it is. It was very believable, especially if you have known people like this.
The movie also has a feel to it. There is a genuine atmosphere that I enjoyed, with the mixture of music and the shots that were used, it was very enjoyable. As I watched this movie, I kept thinking about REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, and the way that the movie played out, there was certainly the same sort of tragedy involved. Even though Voodoo is against employment, addicted to drugs, and a total wreck, you still have to feel sorry for him.
The story is good, it is written well and interesting, and casting Lobdell was a good move. While some of the actors seemed to struggle a little, he had the ability to carry the scene. The film has a “real” feel to it, as if you’re really following Voodoo.
The things that were checks against this movie were in the production itself. The lighting is bad at times, and the editing can be choppy. The audio has a hiss to it that can be distracting and some of the scenes tend to be fixed shots rather than mixing in variety, which would have really helped this movie. If you watch a film on this level and you are looking for perfection, you will be disappointed. If you watch one, looking for heart and a story, you will find it here in BROTHERS IN COMMUNION, a very good effort and decent execution. I enjoyed it and I do recommend it.