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The Independent Critic

Mark Paul Wake, Sarah-Louise Tyler, Boyd Clack, Ieuan Rhys, Gareth King
Andrew C. Tanner
Andrew C. Tanner & Rhys Hills
104 Mins.


 "Masterpiece" Review 
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Martin (Mark Paul Wake) is a struggling writer.

If you've ever been a struggling writer, Martin will seem achingly familiar if not quite to the dramatic heights to which we experience Martin. When a dream triggers an idea for his first novel, Martin begins a life and literary journey that threatens his relationship with Kate (Sarah-Louise Tyler) and ignores the recommendations of his mentor Rod (Welsh actor Boyd Clack). As his life spins increasingly out of control for the sake of his work, Martin's encounter with a mysterious, enlightened being of sorts (Rhys Hills) whose presence may very well determine the ending to Martin's masterpiece.

Masterpiece is likely to experience a greater degree of success in Europe, a fact related not so much to any concerns about quality as it is to Americans avoidance of anything resembling introspection. Masterpiece is a relentlessly introspective journey weaving together the artist's expression of self with how that expression comes alive on the written page and in our daily lives.

Those who hate confessional poetry and confessional cinema may very well detest Masterpiece, a piece of self-indulgent cinema based squarely upon a self-indulgent and extraordinarily narcissistic writer (as are most writers to a degree) and his increasingly dramatic and depressing world and world view.

Masterpiece lives and breathes on the strength of its central performance. Mark Paul Wake is up to the task. As Martin, Wake exudes both the role of the determined, psychotically committed writer and the man whose very existence is hanging in the balance as he seems to lose control of his place in the world that surrounds him. It's a difficult performance made more difficult by the commitment of co-writers Andrew C. Tanner & Rhys Hills towards honesty that could best be described as emotionally exhausting.

Masterpiece isn't for everyone, but those who appreciate it are likely to really, really embrace it.

D.P. Robbie J. Bryant lenses the film quite well and allows the camera to serve as companion to Martin's descent, while David Turnbull's sound only occasionally falls victim to the film's modest production budget.

Writers, especially writers who have ever tackled a deeply personal or introspective work, will find much with which to identify in British filmmaker Andrew C. Tanner's Masterpiece. The film's scenes are often transitioned with quotes related to the creative process, and while this approach at times feels a bit obvious as a writer these quotes rang true and preceded the scenes quite nicely. A psychological drama that vividly captures the exasperating and exhilarating nature of the writer at work, Masterpiece is beginning its festival journey and Wake deservedly captured the Best Actor prize at the British Independent Film Festival while the film garnered nominations for Best Film and Best Director.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic