Wayne Joseph, Timothy Hoobler, Erik Daughterman, Bonn Kovacs, Elizabeth McIntire, Lauren Pappas, Thomas F. Walsh, Timothy J. Cox
"Tillman" a Mostly Disappointing Short
The life of an indie actor is always quite interesting in terms of the peaks and valleys of finding work and, of course, the quality of said work. Actor Timothy J. Cox, who has become a bit of a regular face here on The Independent Critic thanks to his numerous short film appearances, is a perfect example. Cox is a talented actor who has appeared in a wide variety of films, some quite good and others almost painfully disappointing. While Tillman isn't necessarily "painfully" disappointing, the 15-minute short film is an emotionally flat cinematic exercise that falls considerably short despite a promising script from writer Josh Batista and a winning performance from young Erik Daughterman as the young son and sole bright spot of car dealership owner Richard Tillman (Wayne Joseph).
It's apparent from the first frame that this is going to be a bit of a melancholic exercise, with the frowny-faced Richard looking all frumpy and dumpy except when dealing with the enthusiastic but unbelievable flirtations of his secretary (Lauren Pappas). Any woman who would be flirting with this sad sack clearly possesses a personality disorder and should be intensely avoided.
There are serious statements to be found in Tillman, a film that struggles because it somehow simultaneously feels both too long and too short. The story itself is under-developed, but even within the film's paltry 15 minute running time I'd clearly had enough of these mopey and dopey characters. When Richie Jr. (Timothy Hoobler) arrives back home, apparently from a rehab stint, we know that director Antonio Padovan is aiming for some sense of family drama but everything feels strangely muted and pointless.
Among the key players, Daughterman is cloying but most kids that age are cloying so I found myself willing to go with it. Hoobler's performance is probably the best of the bunch, though he's admittedly also given the most to work with from Batista's script. The rest of the performances feel like they should be transplanted into Soderbergh's Bubble and, no, that's not a compliment.
It's hard not to believe that there's a decent short film swimming somewhere underneath the surface of this one, though it might've helped if Batista/Padovan had just gone a bit more relentlessly balls to the walls and made the film darker, funnier or with a sharper point. Production credits, even for a lower-budgeted indie, also disappoint. In the end, even the ultra-indie fests are likely to pass on this one.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic