I finally got to watch the screener of Durden Godfrey’s film I Am Going to Kill Someone This Friday. I had to watch it on devices other than our TV, so I hope to see it soon on a bigger screen.
I’d go so far as to say this is one of the best indie films I’ve seen. Before I write another word, I have to disclose something.
I am listed and credited as a publicist for the film. This was an act of generosity on the filmmakers’ part. I did not ask for or receive any compensation for the writing I’ve done about ‘Kill.’ I first learned about it from family friend Jared Rush who also played a small role in the film and served as a writer and executive producer. Early on I sensed this was a serious effort on the parts of those involved, and I believed it would meet my expectations.
I think Jacksonville has a great opportunity when it comes to the private arts community. The film did meet my expectations, in more ways than one.
Robert Partridge, the main character played by Tom Siedle, deserves an award. Partridge is a comprehensive character whose soul is tortured by his demons and an occasional angel. There’s a scene where he gives a homeless cripple money and expresses the closest sentiment to sympathy you’ll see in Partridge’s character. The next time Partridge encounters the cripple, the wheelchair bound man thanks him again for his generosity. Partridge (shown here in featured image) scorns him.
If ever there was an exploration of the human condition, this film is it. The film does address contemporary issues like materialism, decadence, and bullying, but all those issues are as old as mankind. The necktie as noose is a nuanced symbol throughout the film, with the narrative supporting the concept of corporate oppression.
Partridge’s alter ego in the film is played by Taurean Royal who superbly fulfills the role of Mr. Basilicus. Basilicus is the devil on Partridge’s shoulder who tells Partridge in response to a question about believing in God, “I believe in the devil.” Throughout the film, Partridge and Basilicus have brief conversations pointing to the battle between good and evil dating to antiquity. I couldn’t decide whether the name ‘Bacilicus’ is a motif for the word ‘basilica’ associated with Christian institutions or a nod to the bacteria Bacillus. It worked either way for me. At one point, there’s evolution in Partridge when Bacilicus asks him, “You realize you’re a psychopath, right?”
There’s enough metaphor in this film to fill a book. I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t seen it yet. It’s enough to say the casting was superb—each character fulfilled his or her role with finesse. From Partridge’s long suffering wife to his son whose goodness constantly struggles with the mixed messages of the father, the characters not only bond with each other, they bond with the viewer. At this point in this family’s life, it’s obvious the wife is long suffering and the son is at risk, but there must have been some goodness in the father at some point because he is loved. Both Traci L. Newman as the wife and Camson Alevy as the son did a phenomenal job with their roles.
Another cast standout is David E. McMahon as Garret Egbert. He’s the guy you’ll love to hate, and he pulls off the part remarkably well.
There’s an exchange in the film between Partridge and his coworkers like Garret regarding their work in marketing. Questions are presented about what is real, and the new boss says he doesn’t know and doesn’t care what’s real—“This,” he said, “is advertising.”
Above all, this film keeps you watching the screen. You want to know what happens, all the way to an ending very few will see coming. The fact the crew pulled off such an ambitious work is an absolute miracle. I can imagine the sweat and resources and time that went into this production.
I have few quibbles. A few times I did think the soundtrack a bit loud, and at other times, I had to adjust the lighting on my device for better clarity. But regarding the content of the film and the plot, I have no quibbles. I realized by the end this is a linear yet non-linear film. Actions do progress to a finale, but it’s not the finale you will expect other than a slight tipoff in an almost unnoticeable wink on the part of Jayla Royal who plays Bree in the film. Royal is quite the talent, and played her part with skill far beyond her young years.
When I was writing my nonfiction book, I struggled with it because it was a personal story. As my publisher urged me to finish, I had a conversation with a friend who is also a writer. She told me to focus on getting the reader to turn each page.
That is what the filmmakers did with Durden Godfrey’s I Am Going to Kill Someone This Friday. They managed to keep the viewer guessing but also to want to stick around for the next scene until the final moment.
There is a poem summing up this film in so many ways. “Therapy” is a masterful sonnet in the book Tell Me written by Kim Addonizio, a poet I was fortunate enough to interview a couple times. The fourteen line poem has the speaker talking to a therapist. The speaker recounts her abuse in spare terms, but the words are loaded. And the last four lines sum up exactly where you are once you finish viewing I Am Going to Kill Someone This Friday:
ridiculous, this ordering the noise/
the past makes into music. What’s it for?
Time’s up. You’re in the house. I’m through the door.”
The poet has placed you, the reader, on the therapist’s couch, and concurrently placed you, the reader, in the position of therapist. The poet has escaped her prison as you theoretically are plunged into where she was.
That is exactly what Partridge accomplishes with the final words he speaks in this film:
“This is how it ends.”
And just like that, when you leave the film, Partridge is in your head and follows you wherever you’re going.
(Review by Kay B. Day/Aug. 22, 2018)