Published Sep 09, 2011As the title suggests, Simon Davidson's feature film debut, The Odds, has much to do with gambling, both literally and metaphorically, fancying itself a cautionary tale on risk addiction. And while this Canadian crime drama is moderately successful in communicating its point — indirectly implicating the dominant corporate ideologue and a wayward adult generation as signifiers — there's something a little too strained and awkward about the edgy teen crime component required to fill in the didactic.
In sheer progression and assembly, Davidson's film works by starting things off harmlessly enough, with teen buddies Desson (Tyler Johnston) and Barry (Calum Worthy) texting bets to underage bookie Paul (Jaren Brandt Bartlett) on high school wrestling championships, making the usual schoolyard remarks about parties, girls and what have you.
But things gradually escalate, with the occasional act of violence getting out of control, some hints that Desson might be in over his head and some less than supportive, well-balanced parental influence. This is why it isn't really a surprise when Barry ends up dead and Desson winds up in the middle of an underground ring that's far more complicated than his playful school bets.
Since Davidson possesses a keen eye for filmmaking, instinctively knowing how to build tension without a great deal of unnecessary stylization and filler material, the story comes off clearly and professionally, which is ameliorated by a solid, varied performance from Tyler Johnston. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue and some of the scenarios come off as overly contrived, with teenagers acting tough, dropping f-bombs in their parents wood-panelled basements.
In fact, since the production value is minimal, at times, and some of the actors don't quite have the conviction to sell their darkness, there's something awkwardly after-school about the entire endeavour, aside from the C-words.
While promising and certainly engaging, The Odds acts as little more than a promotional aid for some up-and-coming talent. (Kinosmith)