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The Independent Critic

Rando Thomas, Jordan Tygh, Stacie Richards Dail, Mike Cahill, George T. Woods, Steven Brown, Bill Durrell
Jay Jennings

 "The Drowning" Never Quite Comes Together 
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There's an intriguing concept somewhere within writer/director Jay Jennings' new short film The Drowning, a nearly 10-minute drama with ample doses of artistic integrity but without a compelling reason to actually care about the film's central character.

The film centers around a divorced dad (Rando Thomas) whose initial encounter with a street preacher (Steven Brown) precedes an overwhelming tragedy when his son (Jordan Tygh) drowns while he's inside getting high with his girlfriend (Stacie Richards Dail). The vast majority of the film's running time is spent watching the grief-stricken father fall deeper and deeper into a devastating depression as he learns that, indeed, that there are some losses that you simply can't overcome.

While I admire the integrity of Jay Jennings in creating a rather dark yet honest story about a father's seemingly unrelenting grief, it's a difficult story to become invested in even with the tragic loss of a young boy at its very center. The father in question comes off rather quickly as a self-serving and neglectful father, and while the loss of the son is tragic the intense grief of the father seems so intensely warranted that he never really becomes a sympathetic character.

This isn't so much an issue with the performance of Rando Thomas, whose work is just fine here, but with the development of the character. In each subsequent scene after his son's death, our young father never quite breaks out of that "me" place and the result is that the story that unfolds doesn't quite have the dramatic impact it seems like it's trying to have.

The Drowning is constructed with a design that feels almost otherworldly, perhaps a reflection of the father's detachment from this tragic life in which he finds himself. While at times the film tries to stretch a tad too far beyond its low budget, it's easy to see what Jennings is going here for and despite the film's flaws there's an artistic integrity that's easy to admire.

For more information on The Drowning, visit the film's website linked to in the credits on the left.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic