Opening the door for micro-budget films to make an impact on a much larger stage, the success of Paranormal Activity has opened studios’ eyes to the possibility that a movie made for even a minuscule budget can boast great quality. Now with a special micro-budget wing, Paramount and similar studios are again interested in project productions made for a mere fraction of the millions spent of the average Hollywood release, and Innocent Crimes is the reason why.
About a shy accountant, Farley Chambers (Longhi), frustrated with his monotonous everyday life, his uninspiring job and his controlling mother, only when one night he has a chance encounter with convict on the run Charles Wells (Telfer), his eyes are opened to a world of opportunity. Reluctant at first to initially drive Wells away from the scene of a crime then accompany him for a drink at a nearby bar, Farley was soon coerced into a situation he couldn’t have previously dreamed about, teased by the allure of money, women and alcohol.
Helping Wells break into local houses, wiping them clean of expensive and extravagant belongings, only to toss the stolen goods into a nearby river, Farley and Charles serve to teach the rich that possessions are nothing more than objects, mindlessly collected through life, and that their happiness should be within. Though just committing the crimes to escape his day to day existence, enjoying the thrill that only Wells can bring, soon enough Farley’s actions begin to affect his work and home life, and while breathing a new sense of confidence into his step, Farley finds himself in too deep, at risk of losing everything that, in his heart of hearts, he loves ever more dearly.
Shot remarkably for under £10,000, Innocent Crimes’ micro-budget is felt at times on some of the sets and locations but the production values on the whole remain strikingly high. The pacing is perfect and after first sucking you into Farley’s daily plight, the film picks up rapidly, whisking you in his whirlwind new lifestyle, following Farley as before he knows it, he’s doing things he would have never believed in his realm.
The film is directed with style and class from first time writer/director Jonathan Green. Filled with moments of suspense and tension, the characters are portrayed on screen with real believability and maturity, aided by a script with depth far beyond what you might first expect.
Written specifically with the highly regarded theatre actor in mind, as the exciting and mysterious Charles Wells, George Telfer is fantastic. His performance is captivating from each word to the next, while opposite him, Michael Longi takes a little longer to get going but as the end draws near, the chemistry between the two is enchanting.
Holding many similarities with The Edukators, not least the protagonists’ penchant for breaking into people’s houses to teach them a lesson about wealth, but about how you can find a new thirst for life when delving into something new, or in this case, something dangerous and unmistakably on the wrong side of the law. Innocent Crimes is close to a The Edukators set in rural Yorkshire, and the comparison should bring great credit to each.
Certainly the best micro-budget film you’ll see for some time, though a tagline purely with respect to the budget only downplays the achievements of Innocent Crimes. With a thoroughly intriguing story that will keep you excited until the very last scene and characters you can really latch onto, Innocent Crimes is a remarkable achievement and deserves to be mixing it with the much bigger guns of cinema today.
Editor’s note. We caught the film at an exclusive preview screening, with Innocent Crimes due for release later in 2011. For more information head over to innocentcrimes.com.