Erik Fellows, Kam Dabrowski, Daniela Bobadilla, Jared Abrahamson, Lin Shaye, John Savage, Johnny Dowers, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Daniel Blake Smith, Nick Feild
Peter Franklin (Erik Fellows, Road to Moloch) is a corrupt attorney with a mobster client. When a trial verdict doesn't go his way, mob boss Mrs. Smith (Lin Shaye, the Insidious films) intends to hold Peter responsible for the unexpected incarceration of her son. Forced to go on the run, Peter decides to hole up in tiny Juniper, Texas, where he becomes Frank, a writer researching a book. Staying anonymous isn't as easy as it sounds when a local man, the "mentally challenged" Tiger (Kam Dabrowski, is accused of murder in the mysterious death of the local homecoming queen (Daniela Bobadilla). Will Peter continuing hiding his identity in hopes of avoiding the mob or will he come to the defense of a young man whose life may very well be on the line?
Directed by Mark David, Texas Heart is a low-budget indie that experienced its fair share of success on the indie fest circuit including the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature and the Audience Award at the Durango Film Festival, an Award of Merit from the Accolade Global Film Competition and multiple other festival appearances including its noteworthy world premiere at New Mexico's Albuquerque Film Festival. Picked up for distribution by indie distributor Indie Rights, Texas Heart is now available through the vast majority of indie VOD outlets including Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, ITunes and a host of others.
David, working off a script by Daniel Blake Smith and Nick Feild, has created a breezy and entertaining film existing in the crime thriller tradition of recent Grisham-based films. The film is cast with a combination of up-and-coming Mississippi actors, as the film was largely shot with Mississippi filling in for the smalltown Texas locale, along with a couple of known actors, Insidious's Lin Shaye and The Deer Hunter's John Savage, adding significant heft to smaller roles.
Among the more local actors, Johnny Dowers, as Sheriff Dobbs, and Rhes Low, as Deputy Tim Cash, make particularly strong impressions with a spot-on chemistry that gives the film a tremendous spark. The film held a few more surprises for this particular film critic, from the presence of social media friend Brad Fowler in the cast to the familiar face of No Country for Old Men's memorable Richard Jackson. It's clear that David has worked hard to give the film a rich authenticity and that effort has paid off quite nicely. Real life Clarksville, Mississippi Mayor Bill Luckett even shows up as presiding Judge Westcott.
Texas Heart isn't a perfect film, though David accomplishes mighty good things within the limitations set forth in a low-budget indie. While that low-budget occasionally works against the film, Texas Heart is truly an actors' film and this ensemble cast is more than up to the task of handling this intelligently written and emotionally honest material. For more information on the film, visit the website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic