Sean Matthews couldn’t wait to strike out on his own and get out from under the confines of being a pastor’s son. When given half of his inheritance with the stipulation of staying in school, Sean heads off to USC to live the party lifestyle. He feels like he can do whatever he wants—that is, until he meets Ali, a girl who seems immune to his usual manipulation. Thus, he pursues her in the hopes of winning her over, even though she is not interested in having a relationship. They become friends and she changes Sean’s outlook on life. When Sean comes to a crossroads, he will have to decide which path he wants to take.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Confessions of a Prodigal Son starts out fairly rough, like many freshman productions. There is a lot of shaky camera work at first, including odd artistic angles, such as filming through crowds and from behind objects, as well as a lot of close-up shots. However, this seems to improve as the movie goes. Video quality is relatively stable throughout, but audio quality is another inconsistent factor, as it goes from cheap to quality over the span of ninety minutes. The soundtrack is too loud at first and some audio is overdubbed, but these issues seem to work themselves out later. Unfortunately, sets and locations are slightly cheap throughout the movie. The editing is actually somewhat creative as the story is presented in a semi-out-of-order fashion that enhances interest. Overall, this production seems to be a learning experience for the Lighting Dark team, which is perfectly reasonable, considering this is their first film. The good news is that they will likely improve down the road.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
The one thing we can say for Confessions of a Prodigal Son is that while the story is somewhat overused and predictable, at least it is presented in a creative and unique fashion. This rendition of the famous parable will stand out from others because effort was made to be artistic and different. At first, the narration seems too heavy-handed, but it becomes more justifiable later. The portrayal of addicts is spot-on in this film, even if the solutions are little shallow. There seems to be a lot of edgy content simply for the sake of having it and some important issues are treated too simply, probably to fit the story into the designated runtime. Some characters are cheesy and have character arcs that are too steep, yet there are times when they are surprisingly well-crafted. Though the messaging is somewhat obvious, it is still at least partially meaningful and is packaged in an artistic fashion that shows potential for the future. In short, this movie is not all bad and stands out among others like it, which is all we ask for of new film makers.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Like other elements in this film, the acting begins fairly rough and inexperienced. There are some mumbled and slurred lines, yet there are also some overly-enunciated lines. However, these issues work themselves out over time, like the other issues that were previously pointed out. Emotions are mostly realistic throughout the film and line delivery certainly improves in the second half. Overall, it is encouraging to see improvement throughout a movie rather than consistent negativity.
Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a mixed bag that carries with it the potential for greatness. This is normal for a first-time film, as are the early production struggles. If production and acting had been consistently professional and if the characters had been a little deeper through better dialogue, this film would have likely been Hall of Fame. We are always encouraged to see new film makers that are trying to do the right things, so we anticipate greater things from the Lighting Dark team in the future.
Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points