In the Orchard is the kind of quiet little indie film that you often find at indie fests where you find yourself thinking about it later and wondering to yourself "I wonder what happened to that film."
Sadly, more often than not nothing happens.
That's a shame, really, because In the Orchard deserves to find its audience. Written by and starring Dana White, In the Orchard tells the story of Charlotte, whose entire life is thrown into disarray when her husband, played by the film's director Christopher Knoblock, and her son are killed in a tragic accident that she manages to survive. Left with nothing but memories of her family and the orchard that they owned, Charlotte attempts to deal with her overwhelming grief by managing her daily life but soon becomes isolated and immersed in a darkness from which there seems no escape. When a suicide attempt is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who has been inexplicably sleeping on her land, Nick (Jonas Ball), it's not quite clear if this is the hope she's been looking for or another tragedy waiting to happen.
In the Orchard recently premiered on Amazon after a successful indie fest run that included prizes at Sonoma International Film Festival (Jury Award, Best American Independent Feature), Culver City Film Festival (Grand Prize, Best Feature), and Beaufort International Film Festival (Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor).
The success for In the Orchard isn't surprising. White has crafted a compelling, involving story that transcends a fairly familiar framework thanks to nicely developed characters and naturally developing tensions that are brought vividly to life by the believable chemistry between White's Charlotte and Jonas Ball's Nick. They both possess a deep woundedness and that woundedness leaves us constantly wondering where all this is going and how this is all going to turn out.
Fortunately, things unfold at a reasonable pace and aren't too quickly revealed. Knoblock allows scenes to linger, at times past the comfort zone, and that unknowing serves the film quite well.
Noah Pankow lenses the film quite effectively, while Lauren Buchter's original music for the film taps into the film's high anxiety without losing the emotional resonance that keeps us invested in the story.
With In the Orchard being his directorial debut, Knoblock has crafted a low-key, involving psychological drama with a strong ensemble cast and a story that keeps you holding on until film's end wondering how this is going to all turn out.
For more information on In the Orchard, visit the film's website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic