Scott Cordes, Aaron Laue, Chris Bylsma, Bradyn Bratcher
"Good Conduct" a Powerful Short Film
Good Conduct is a terrific little seven-minute dramatic short from director Patrick Rea and screenwriter Michelle Davidson, a film that takes a fairly basic set-up and gives it maximum emotional wallop with a story that will likely resonate with anyone that's ever dealt with the anticipation of a loved one, or a hated one, on the verge of being released from prison.
That itself is the set-up. A son (Chris Bylsma) has arrived at a prison the day before his father (Scott Cordes) is due to be released early from prison for, you guessed it, good conduct. There's an honest feeling tension between the two, though the exact nature of the father's crime is never fully revealed. It's obvious that the father is surprised by his son's visit, though his son isn't exactly a picture of welcoming warmth as the two enter the room that is populated with other prisoners and their family members including, most notably, a young boy accompanying his mother as she her man.
To give away too much of this involving short film would in itself be criminal, because Davidson and Rea have plugged in just the right elements to turn Good Conduct into a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant short film that benefits tremendously from the top-notch co-leading performances of Bylsma and Cordes along with the rather quiet yet perfectly nuanced performance of young Bradyn Bratcher as the aforementioned young boy.
Davidson's dialogue is slight yet intentional and Rea does a nice job of incorporating silence into the scenario in just the right way to maximize the tension contained within Davidson's far more intimate and revealing words than you might realize at first. Frequent Rea collaborator Hanuman Brown-Eagle lenses the film with an eye towards the distance that truly exists between these two men while Noel Selders contributes a low-key original score that accompanies the drama to perfection.
Good Conduct has only recently been completed and should have no problem finding a home on the indie fest circuit and could, in fact, be a terrific niche' choice for those fests seeking a more social issue oriented short film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic