Ann Tiemann Loggins, Brent Coffing, Craig Lemons and Anna Styles
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Oak Road Multimedia
"Taylor Bertram" a Compelling and Thought-Provoking Film
Taylor Bertram is my first experience with up-and-coming indie filmmaker Randy DeFord.
I'm hoping it won't be my last.
Practically defining what it means to be a grassroots filmmaker, DeFord has crafted a thought-provoking and compelling film with Taylor Bertram, a crime thriller centering around the fundamental quandary of the limit that we could all appropriate - when justice is not served.
Brenda (Ann Tiemann Loggins) leads a serene life in a small town until a new job exposes her to a local woman with the stereotypically abusive husband. As she finds out more and more about the woman's situation, her curiosity grows and her desire to know more and to do something about it all also grows. One day, she herself experiences the man's fury and suddenly her drive to do something reaches an entirely new level.
Then, the man is discovered shot to death on his own property and the local sheriff is left to try to figure out the circumstances around his death and who is responsible.
Of course, the entire story is much more involved with threads that make the conflict even more compelling and thought-provoking. Along the way, DeFord handles it all like a confident indie filmmaker whose artistic voice is self-assured and filled with loads of integrity. This is DeFord's fifth feature film and he's been producing films since 1999. DeFord was originally a musician, a fact that wasn't particularly surprising when I read it in his press packet as his film has a rhythm and fluidity that most filmmakers couldn't likely create.
The film's key players are all strong, with Ann Tiemann Loggins and Craig Lemons being particularly convincing and Jason Thompson and Anna Stiles being top notch among the film's supporting players. The film's theme song comes from Alabama native Jimmy Hall, whom some may recognize as from the band Wet Willie.
There were times that Taylor Bertram reminded me of one of my favorite under-appreciated films, the Cate Blanchett/Keanu Reeves vehicle The Gift, though this film played less for the drama and more for the authentic development of its story and its characters. That's a compliment, for sure, because it takes a disciplined director and a skilled cast to avoid the histrionics in a film this strong and to trust the story that's actually unfolding.
Currently on the film festival circuit, Taylor Bertram should no doubt continue DeFord's success on the indie and micro-budget fest circuit and pick up a few awards along the way.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic