The Samaritan [Blu-Ray] David Weaver

The Samaritan [Blu-Ray] David Weaver
As writer/director David Weaver discusses in the amateurish interview and behind-the-scenes supplement material included with the Blu-Ray, The Samaritan is a character drama and morality play dressed up as a genre piece. Noting the introductory film theory principle that an audience brings to the table a lexicon of popular cinema and resultantly normative tropes, there's an expectation of noir familiarity when long-time convict Foley (Samuel L. Jackson) is put on parole, only to be confronted with his old life, which he's desperately trying to escape. Presumably, his past will catch up with him and provide an opportunity to make amends, with a standard cast of morally ambiguous characters challenging his newfound ethics. And, initially, this gloomy, low-key Canadian production embraces genre standards by reacquainting Foley with the son of the man he murdered, Ethan (Luke Kirby). In offering Foley a door back into his old criminal lifestyle, Ethan presents a central quandary, weighing down our conflicted protagonist with the guilt of past transgressions while himself acting as a misguided being potentially in need of saving, much like lost soul Iris (Ruth Negga), who Ethan offers to Foley as a sex toy. Rather than getting preoccupied with duplicity and stylization to heighten mysterious character motivations, Weaver focuses on the individual relationships, allowing everyone breathing room to embrace their feelings and motivations of any given moment. Sure, some of the heavy-handed theatrics of particularly damaged characters ― pointing out their suicide attempts and woeful childhood ― are a little adolescent and strained, but The Samaritan works best when these three characters are engaging in their triangle of self-destructive behaviour. As far as the central story at hand and the reaction most viewers will have to its lethargic machinations, I'm reminded of Jane Campion's similarly character-driven genre manipulation, In the Cut, which was panned mostly because people weren't given what was advertised and what they expected. Sadly, this surprisingly clever drama has suffered the same fate. (eOne)