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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.05.16] Canada scifi drama

Spence is a bad guy. A psychopath, he makes his living praying on rich women by wowing them before robbing them blind. While out celebrating his latest conquest, Spence is talked into taking a new drug which turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life. What he doesn't know when he pops that pill is that the new drug has an unwelcome side effect: it turns on his emotions.

Lost Solace is writer/director Chris Scheuerman's latest feature and with it, he explores the emotional dark side of humanity through the eyes of a man feeling for the first time. The movie largely unfolds as Spence meets and gets to know his next mark Azaria, a student with a rich father. The pair originally bond over classic cars before quickly falling into a relationship routine and soon enough, Spence has hatched a plan with Azaria's troubled brother to take out their father, leaving the pair to inherit a ton of money of which Spence will take a cut. It's an easy scheme except that Spence is having some unusual panic-like attacks which are incapacitating him not to mention there's a pesky thing called a conscience that is making living his typical day-to-day existence as an asshole very difficult.

It's a great story concept and one that works largely in part because of Andrew Jenkins' performance. Jenkins has great charisma that shines through even the less savory parts of the movie of which there are many. It's hard to root for a bad guy and even worse when he has no redeeming qualities and Spence is exactly that guy. Even when he begins to feel emotions, he continues on the track of first rate first rate dick and though there are moments when it seems he's being genuine, it's never really clear if he's truly feeling or only pretending and his actions are never straight cut either.

I love that Lost Solace presents such a complicated and murky lead character and that Jenkins is up to the challenge but the movie doesn't always live up to the high bar it sets for itself. The secondary characters are mostly forgettable though Charlie Kerr gives a solid turn as Azaria's troubled brother Jory. The movie has a couple of clunky moments early on but it really loses its way with the introduction of Betty (Leah Gibson), a doctor who apparently wants to help Spence but has her own agenda.

Though it has a lot of story problems, I really enjoyed Lost Solace; in part because Jenkins gives a great performance and partly because even though the story is a meddled mess, it still has some great ideas that manage to come through. I'd be curious to see what Scheuerman can accomplish with a better script but more than that, I'm excited to see what Jenkins is up to next.

Recommended Release: Limitless

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