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The Independent Critic

Directed by
Lije Sarki
Written by
William Wanek
Starring
Brendan Michael Coughlin, Dave Rodriguez, Nicole Zeoli
Running Time
9:47

 "Closing Doors" Review 
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Sometimes, the simplest stories are the most powerful.

Closing Doors is the deceptively simple story of a father (Dave Rodriguez) struggling to find his way and let go of the past in order to raise the daughter he loves.

Sounds simple, right?

There's something refreshing about a director who has the wisdom to trust his actors, his story and the way that it naturally unfolds. So many directors would have felt it necessary to add unnecessary conflicts or hyped up dramatics, but the power of Closing Doors lies in its deceptive simplicity as a father plays hard-ass at the front door of the family home when a punk kid (Brendan Michael Coughlin) shows up presumably for a date with his daughter.

At times, it seems as if this seemingly ordinary front door has become a domestic war zone and it's impossible to tell if this is one seriously psychotic father or if, perhaps, he's simply an overbearing father who has the best of intentions protecting his little girl. Yet, there's something about these two nameless characters as they face off with one another - it's as if both of them have arrived at this place and time with a little extra baggage and the words being spoken unfold with tremendous emotion, intensity and intentionality.

Brendan Michael Coughlin, whom some may recognize from his time as Tad on Days of Our Lives,  adds a depth to his portrayal of this ordinary street punk that makes it difficult to decide as the story unfolds if this is a young man with excess baggage, a chip on his shoulder or if there's something else entirely going on here. Similarly, Dave Rodriguez is electrifying as the father whose verbal jousting only begins to reveal the tremendous depth of emotion that is going on inside him.

Penned by William Wanek, Closing Doors bristles with crisp, clear dialogue that so easily flows between our two lead characters that at times it's difficult to decide whether this is truly the written word or if an improvisational spirit has taken hold. To his credit, Wanek has managed to bring to life two vividly developed characters well within the film's less than 10 minute running time.

Director Lije Sarki clearly trusts his actors, avoiding any distractions as we watch the faces, listen to the words and wait for the story to unfold. Sarki's direction is slow and steady, a clear indication that he trusts the material and, indeed, his trust is well rewarded.

D.P. David Navarro's camera work is clear and crisp, maintaining the film's simplicity and focusing on the characters and the story as it unfolds. This is a film that doesn't need gimmicks - it needs authenticity, and Navarro's unflinching photography stares in the faces of these characters as they go back and forth. Kudos, as well, must be given for the original music of Honey Honey.

Closing Doors is the kind of short film that will leave you thinking and processing long after the closing credits have rolled on by, playing over in your mind the words that have been spoken and the scenes and images that have unfolded. Sometimes, the simplest stories are the most powerful and love, for all its strange and wondrous complexity, Closing DOors is really the simplest story of all brought vibrantly to life by a punk kid, a father struggling to let go and the little girl who brings them together.

Closing Doors is just starting its film festival run and, most assuredly, this is one film you want to check out if it arrives at a festival near you!
    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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