Stars: Rob Burson, Aimee DuMars, Sandy Owens and Robbie King
|This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in 2015. Here's an index to my reviews of 2015 films.|
Duty has two names all over its credits, so it would seem safe to see the film as theirs. Rob Burson wrote the script and took the lead role for himself, produced the picture and co-directed it with Victoria Rincon, who also shot and edited the piece. Mostly they do good work. Burson is a decent lead, able to elicit our sympathy even after that opening scene. Lance is a good man, but it isn't just the financial crisis that's causing his problems; it's also his male chauvinist attitude, which we're never quite sure we should read as his alone or endemic to the role he plays in society. His wife is a good woman too; in fact, everyone in the film has our sympathy to at least some degree, even Crazy Willie who acts up at two in the morning and waves his shotgun around. I've seen films where I couldn't care about anyone, as important ones as Gone with the Wind, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one before where I cared about everyone and found that a problem. If these people are all so damn likeable, how come nobody is helping them?
The first time I watched Duty, at last year's Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival, I felt that the script was a little too simple to boot but, watching afresh, at the Phoenix Film Festival and again here at home to put this review together, I've changed my mind on that front. While this is about a good man finding himself doing bad things for good reasons, it's far more than that too. It's as much a commentary on the macho mindset pervasive in the police force, even in a small town like this one with a capable female boss, and the self-destructive stupidity of those from which they protect us, as it is about the hard times brought to good men and bad by people a long way away and unseen to everyone who matters. Duty is duty to all the characters in this film, but the word means a different thing to each of them and it shapes how they choose their actions. There's a lot of depth here that I didn't see first time through and I wonder how it plays to different people. While there are questions here, I believe we need to find our own answers.
Duty can be watched for free on Vimeo.