A fast-paced crime-thriller film, independently produced. Interesting, well-developed characters. Good production value. Now this is what I'm talking about!
Starting with an opening scene that teases the ending, BREAD THIEVES (2013) is fast out of the gate, like a champion thoroughbred race horse. Quick exposition then leads directly into action, all within the first act.
The story centers on Simon (Jerran Fraser), a young man who returns home after serving time in prison for a crime he did not commit. He "took the fall" for his meth-head father, Kelly (Glenn LaPointe), on a drug possession charge in order to protect his younger brother, Jason (Derick Mason), who would have gone into foster care (and lost the will to finish high school) if his single dad had gone to prison.
Unfortunately, Jason's life has followed a different course than Simon had hoped. Despite graduating from high school, he has started working for the local drug dealer, Zane (JJ Glazebrook). When his friends Wade (Jordan Lee) and Roach (Gregory King) throw a welcome-home party for Simon, he finds out that they are also on Zane's payroll. Drunk and stoned, the group hatches a plot to steal Zane's drug money. At first, Simon is completely against this idea -- he doesn't want to get caught and go back to prison.
However, when Simon finds out that his father, Kelly (Glenn LaPointe), is running a meth lab for Zane in the basement of the rundown family home, he changes his mind. After trashing the lab and leaving his father unconscious and locked in the basement, he does the job along with Jason and his friends.
On the run from Zane, the group does not know the money actually belongs to a much bigger fish, the Hindu (Phoenix Silver). Soon they are being pursued by the Hindu and his bodyguard (Darcy Clarke), with Kelly and Zane not far behind. Holed up in a cabin in a remote area. will they be able to live to enjoy the money?
By the way, Simon's psychotically violent friend, Wade, is running out of his psych meds. This problem leads to an additional complication involving a woman, Michelle (Cassandra Dielschneider), who has been abandoned by her "money man" boyfriend.
Written by Rick Anthony, directed by Bryce Schlamp, and produced by B.E.ZEE Productions, this Canadian indie offers more than action. The main character, Simon, is well-developed, more complex than a simple plot summary can reveal. Fraser does a good job of representing Simon's struggle with the choice between doing the right thing and being loyal to his friends.
Playing Simon's younger brother, Mason incorporates just the right amount of youthful enthusiasm and naiveté into his portrayal of Jason. Wade (Lee) and Roach (King) are good foils for the two brothers. Kelly is perfect as a meth-driven, antisocial, scumbag dad. Dielschneider has just the right mixture of toughness and vulnerability in her performance as Michelle.
In my opinion, however, the actors who steal the show are Silver and Clarke. As the Hindu and his bodyguard, the pair are frightening and darkly funny at the same time. Schlamp even incorporates a throwaway scene in which the Hindu displays an ironically-worded tattoo on his back.
The visual choices that Schlamp made in this movie are another reason to watch it. The masks that the four desperadoes wear when they rip off the drug dealer are simultaneously haunting and humorous. The cinematography, particularly in the opening scene, is artfully done. It is not difficult to see why the film won the Rising Star award at the 2014 Canada International Film Festival.
There is something for almost every viewer in this film. For the literati, for example, there is the title, which is a reference to Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Classic books play a key role in the relationship that develops between Simon and Michelle. You'll have to watch the movie, however, to find out just how that plays out.
BREAD THIEVES is currently available on DVD (see the Facebook link below). It has not yet been released in theaters or via VOD. For more information, follow the film on the following social media channels:
Facebook: Bread Thieves (The Movie)
Disclosure: Access to a screener of this film was provided by Rick Anthony in exchange for a fair and honest review. No financial considerations were involved.