MOVIE: TRESPASS AGAINST US
STARRING: MICHAEL FASSBENDER; BRENDAN GLEESON; LYNDSEY MARSHAL
DIRECTED BY: ADAM SMITH
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 ½ Stars (Out of 4)
The entire concept of family is a funny thing. We are born into this world of parents, wether we like it or not, that will raise us with their beliefs and what they think is best. In the case of Trespass Against Us, it is a film that follows a father and son living in the slums of England, and displays the difficulty in what it takes to break the patterns that are passed down from generation to generation. In director Adam Smith's directorial debut, he relies heavily on the strong performances of Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson to tell a story that is difficult to invest in.
Fassbender stars as Chad Cutler, an uneducated, petty thief who gets his kicks driving his car off road, antagonizing the police, and sleeping all morning. With his wife and two children, he lives in an area of the country that looks like a spot where they one day up and decided to lay. His mobile home is across from his father Colby (Gleeson), who sits in a chair in his all black track suit, looking onto the circle of stolen cars and trash, like a king watching his pile of gold. To many others, their lives are dire, but to these men, it seems to be all they know.
Trespass Against Us is directed by Adam Smith, who made his start directing music videos for the techno band- the Chemical Brothers. It is evident here, he has the ability to make good movies, as he paces Chad's mischievous escape from the police in car chase sequences that have the precision of a veteran. He bounces away from helicopters, dogs on his heels, and even sneaks around the forest like a Maurice Sendak character. However, what becomes the films failure is a major lack in identity. The screenplay by Alastair Siddons, feels like a Guy Ritchie story like Snatch, at times a black comedy. The accents from all the actors are as thick as English pudding, where calling each other vulgar names is a term of endearment. Yet the dramatic emotional struggle from Chad to break away from his father, constantly preaching of faithfulness to family and prayer, is an off-putting tone, and a tragic reminder of people trapped in the hand they were dealt in life. Had the narrative been more focused, you'd have an even better film.
What was not lost on me however, were strong performances from Fassbender and Gleeson. Smith clearly leans on the two, and the red Irish beards they have makes it an easy sell that they could be related. Fassbender had a rare 2016 where his films did not live up to his successful past (X-Men: Apocalypse and Assassin's Creed all box office failures). That is why Trespass Against Us is a refreshing reminder that the star of Steve Jobs is always finding new and interesting ways to challenge himself. His performance here is reminiscent of his work in Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank or 2015's hidden gem- Slow West. You just know without the two, Trespass Against Us wouldn't work at all.
Eventually, it is the uneven back and forth that becomes a glaring flaw in the film. Sometimes it wants to be humorous and other scenes are as dark as a Lars Von Trier film. One begins to wonder why the film is titled Trespass Against Us and if an audience would even care about a family that robs houses and pesters the police? I found myself asking these same question, but if you can, as I did in spurts, latch onto the characters and the situation they live in, you will be able to get a taste of a life that is uniquely different. At it's core, Trespass Against Us has a message about families and how breaking away from what we are born into can be impossible. Sadly, I don't think everyone will take that away. At least the performance from Fassbender is strong and the promise that Adam Smith shows has me interested in what's to come.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady