Friday, March 15, 2013
This Lady Will Do Whatever It Takes to Save Your Soul
Director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Seen via: Nevermore Film Fest
Rating: 5 / 10
It's a reality that most of us will have to face at some point: having a parent die and leave you with an entire house-full of stuff. All the things they've collected, stored, and valued over the years will be junk for you to sell or donate. More overwhelming than the task of moving an entire life of possessions is sorting memories from trash, and choosing the items which will be your last few reminders of the person you've lost. This is the dilemma that Leon (Aaron Poole) faces at the beginning of The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, when his estranged mother passes away. Thankfully he's an antiques dealer, and selling old stuff is what he enjoys. But his childhood was not a happy one. He dreads unearthing memories of abuse and facing the residual guilt he still harbors for deserting his mother and his religion many years ago. To complicate things, his mother isn't quite finished with him either, despite the fact that she's dead.
Things take a turn toward the supernatural when it appears that Leon's mom is trying to come back to the grave to rekindle his faith . Is it actually Leon's dead mother, or is it all in his head? While by now this sort of ambiguity is a well-worn ghost story trope, it's handled pretty well here and doesn't often feel obtrusive. I'm always wary of preachiness when a film throws a nonreligious character into a scenario involving malevolent spirits from heaven (or hell). This one deftly avoids becoming didactic by calling into question the reality of its supernatural elements. Also, kudos to the filmmakers for picking one outcome in the end and sticking to it. I'm tired of movies trying to have it both ways by ending once, then changing their mind with one final twist just before the credits roll.
It's a shame that the entire film rests on the shoulders of Aaron Poole in his role as Leon. He does a fine job, but he's essentially the only person we see throughout the entire film (unless you count Ghost Mom). Other than his leftover angst toward his mother, there aren't a lot of defining character traits to make him endearing. The only interactions he has with anyone else are through phone calls, which don't do much for the already plodding pace of the film. Even at a mere 82 minutes, there is frequent plot drag. Even the most intriguing sets can't carry a film on their own. When the action does flare up, it's undermined by the fact that there's nothing keeping Leon from just leaving the house. (Other than that we need him there for the story to continue, of course.)