The Dynamiter Matthew Gordon

The Dynamiter Matthew Gordon
7
Fourteen-year-old Robbie Hendrick (William Ruffin) isn't a role model student or citizen. Left to his own devices after his mother has run off again, he steals, gets into fights and almost flunks out of school while trying to look after younger half-brother Fess (John Alex Nunnery). He's not an unsympathetic character and certainly not a deliberate instigator of conflict, rather his disposition is that of abject socialization, raised by a mother uninterested in his wellbeing and influenced by Lucas (Patrick Rutherford), his whoring, stealing, cheating older brother, who was kicked out of college, where he was coasting on a football scholarship. Robbie is aware of the rules of civilization and attempts to adhere to them whenever possible, looking for employment and ensuring that upward morality is demonstrated for his younger brother. What Matthew Gordon's humble, low-key, slice-of-life character drama does is capture a defining moment in time for young Robbie, where the last threads of hope for a better future are gradually wiped away by the inevitability of learned values and behaviours in class system cycles. But even though this snippet of a young boy's life has the weight of social consciousness, following him through hot summer days and fumbled efforts at sexual discovery, there's nothing didactic or expository about The Dynamiter. We're not forced into a morality play or lesson; we're simply given a look into the life of a flawed but well-intentioned character destined for very little. Gordon's style is non-invasive and true-to-life, capturing the natural dynamics and awkwardness of any given moment, allowing his young actors to live in the moment rather than forcing them into frames and guided emotional journeys. The overall framing device of a summer essay written by Robbie to stay in school suggests perception and capability on his part, but there's no reassuring arc. Gordon merely wants to capture a moment in time with a true-to-life character that will never live the American dream, much like most people. The heartache comes when even Robbie seems conscious of this, noting that his dreams are becoming smaller every day. Also included with the DVD are some behind-the-scenes flashes, which really are just a series of moments filmed throughout the production, in addition to short film The Roundup, by Stefan C. Schaefer, wherein a sheriff hunts down a bandit named Lawless. Familiar Western tropes that have already worn themselves thin are regurgitated with little stylistic flourish beyond an ugly, washed-out aesthetic. It's best to ignore this one and just re-watch the impressive and touching feature. (Film Movement)