'No Postage Necessary': Film Review
An ex-con computer hacker falls in love with a grieving war widow in Jeremy Culver's romantic dramedy.
The opening montage of news clips about cyberattacks hardly provides an accurate introduction to Jeremy Culver's offbeat romantic comedy/drama. While one of its central characters is a computer hacker who gets involved in an FBI investigation into stolen bitcoins, No Postage Necessary proves decidedly old-school in its storyline. Best suited for basic cable exposure, the film, receiving a limited theatrical release, is most notable for being the first to be screened on a blockchain platform and available for purchase with cryptocurrency. That's cinematic progress of a sorts, I guess.
One of the film's chief problems is that its principal male character, Sam (George Blagden, TV's Vikings) is something of a creep. Recently released from prison, he's crashing on his brother's couch while working a menial job at a soft-serve ice cream stand and supplementing his income by pretending to be a postal carrier and stealing mail that occasionally contains cash.
One day he purloins a letter addressed to "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier." It turns out to have been sent by Josie (Charleene Closshey), who periodically writes missives pouring out her heart to her Marine husband who was killed years earlier in Afghanistan. Living with her father (Raymond J. Barry) and emotionally troubled adolescent daughter (Michelle Moreno), Josie is still very much in the grieving phase.
Intrigued by Josie's heartfelt letters, Sam begins stalking her and, with the help of his religious-minded co-worker and fellow hacker (Robbie Kay), manages to meet her by pretending to save her from being run down by a car. Sam and Josie embark on a tentative romance, even as he is forced to deal with his attentive parole officer (Michael Beach) and a ruthless FBI agent (Stelio Savante) pressuring him to use his unique skills on a case involving the underground drug market on the internet and a fortune in missing bitcoins.
Director/screenwriter Culver doesn't succeed in blending the complex storyline's romantic, comedic and thriller elements into a coherent whole. None of it works remotely well, including the ploddingly paced love story that begins with a dinner at Outback (the Bloomin' Onion is very much on display) and eventually results in Sam rediscovering his inner decency. That the film works at all is a testament to the performers who manage to make the awkward material palatable. Blagden brings just enough charm to his roguish character to make him seem not totally repellent, while Closshey is low-key and appealing as the emotionally vulnerable war widow. The supporting players are even better; the veteran Barry infuses his stern but loving character with genuine gravitas, Beach is stolid as the parole officer who treats his ex-cons fairly, and Kay is a hoot as Sam's reluctant accomplice.
There's nary a believable moment, emotionally or otherwise, in No Postage Necessary, which also suffers from its overly treacly musical score composed by Closshey. The film bears as much relation to real life as cryptocurrency does to hard cash.
Production: Two Roads Picture Co.
Cast: Charleene Closshey, George Blagden, Robbie Kay, Raymond J. Barry, Michelle Moreno, Stelio Savante
Director/screenwriter: Jeremy Culver
Producers: Charleene Closshey, Jeremy Culver
Executive producer: Jennifer Closshey,
Director of photography: Jeff Osborne
Production designer: Matthew Hill
Editor: Sandy S. Solowitz
Composer: Charleen Closshey
Costume designer: Kerry Hennessy
Rated PG-13, 104 minutes