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Meskada -- Film Review

The Bottom Line

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A failed attempt to construct class-conscious drama around a small-town murder story, "Meskada" begins as a promising procedural in the boonies but gets too distracted to sustain much tension. Writer/director Josh Sternfeld's earlier "Winter Solstice" drew some positive attention from critics, but this outing is unlikely to find much love from either scribes or moviegoers.

Nick Stahl is credible as Noah Cordin, a young detective whose investigation into a boy's killing leads back to his impoverished hometown. Overall the cast struggles to justify emotional confrontations that, as scripted, are abrupt and under-supported. The reasons for simmering resentments are hard to grasp, and scenes of municipal meetings meant to illustrate conflicts between the poor community and its better-off neighbor are dull and out-of-place.

The story isn't helped by a weak visual style in which shots that are too tight or too distant are sometimes joined by distracting dissolves. Other tech elements are more solid. Occasional high points (like a strong performance by Jonathan Tucker, who plays one of the boy's accidental killers) hold the viewer's interest. But even without its obscure title, "Meskada" is a hard sell and a disappointing follow-up for Sternfeld.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival
Production company: Four of a Kind Productions
Cast: Nick Stahl, Rachel Nichols, Kellan Lutz, Jonathan Tucker, Norman Reedus, Grace Gummer
Director: Josh Sternfeld
Screenwriter: Josh Sternfeld
Executive producers: Sig De Miguel, Josh Sternfeld, Stephen Vincent
Producers: Jen Gatien, Michael Goodin, Jay Kubassek, Shawn Rice, Ron Stein
Director of photography: Daniel D. Sariano
Production designer: Jack Ryan
Music: Lee Curreri, Steve Weisberg
Costume designer: Amy Kramer
Editor: Phyllis Housen
Sales: Cinetic
No rating, 87 minutes