SIFF Film Review – Fateful Findings

Fateful Findings Movie PosterWhat we have here is what I’m calling a passion-testera true testament to the love of movies, or perhaps storytelling. It’s all on display, for better or worse: a menagerie of choices that ceaselessly walk the borderline between textbook and ill-conceived. It’s a bit of an amazing thing when you think about it, how someone can make a full movie that has a beginning, middle, and end, and yet every decision is somehow marked with what seems like utter failure. Perhaps, though, that’s exactly how it succeeds. I know, this sounds almost incoherent, but somewhere in this mess of thoughts is a moviea sincere movie, almost to a fault of so-cute-it’s-nauseating.

Obviously, movies are not an easy thing to make. They don’t just take time and equipment, they take craft and talent. A movie, in order to succeed in its inherent goal of connecting to an audience, needs to have certain elements adhered to. That’s where a director usually comes insomeone who’s going to be faced with hundreds of choices for every scene that gets shot, and can hopefully make the ones that will lead to that necessary connectivity. Somehow Neil Breen has found a nebulous place where the effect of every bad decision coupled with successful connection exists simultaneously with entertainment in his movie Fateful Findings. Don’t worry; I’m a little confused, too. Let’s see if we can’t work this thing out together.

The plot synopsis is perhaps no better explained than by what I suspect is Breen’s own description on IMDb, which I think is appropriate to recopy here:

A small boy discovers a mystical power as a child. He is then separated from his childhood girlfriend. He grows up to be a computer scientist who is hacking into the most secret national and international secrets, as well as being an acclaimed novel writer. His childhood ‘finding’ gives him amazing paranormal powers. He is reunited with the childhood girlfriend, mystically, on his hospital deathbed… as his relationship with his current drug addict girlfriend is deteriorating. The passions build between the threesome. Mystical, psychiatric and worldly forces rise to prevent him from revealing the hacked secrets. He attempts to reveal all in a Washington DC large press conference, with ‘fateful’ and dangerous consequences.

Fateful Findings 1

This pretty much says everything you need to know about this film, as well as practically summing up what I’m trying to say, for me. It makes a certain kind of sense, yet doesn’t. The entirety of the movie is delivered in the same way as the description. Breen, who plays the main character, seems at times to have almost no idea what’s going on, yet delivers his lines and pushes the narrative through to the next scene. In fact, everyone seems to be in the same mindset here. Are they lost and have mysteriously stumbled onto a movie set where, after having a hastily written script thrust into the faces, they haphazardly deliver lines as if they’re maybe being held hostage and forced against their wills instead? There is a certain kind of sense that is obtained, leading the viewer through from causation to reaction, but at the same time there’s something missing every step of the way. This may come off as a disclaimer, or negative review, which I would say depends on your perspective when it comes to viewing movies, but this is pure entertainment all the way around for me.

I feel if one were to adopt a perspective of knowing how hard it is to make movies, yet also knowing that there are certain guidelines that, if followed, will result in at least a semi-acceptable narrative, then a movie like this becomes a sight to behold. While it’s not easy to make movies, it’s not easy to make bad movies, in so far as that decisions have to be made that are outside the normal when it comes to following some of the basic guidelines for filming a story to have the story be so…nebulous.

Fateful Findings 2

Regardless of decisions being bad or good, working or not working, the real beauty here lies in the earnestness at heart. You can feel that Breen really wants to make a good movie, and one that seems rather personal. Even if it isn’t, it comes across with that personal feel, and that’s something hundreds of other indie films may try for, but seem to lack. However you choose to want to go into viewing this movie (just so long as you do view it), it’s entertaining on many levels, and I can only imagine how it will play out Saturday night at the Seattle International Film Festival’s midnight screening, with a full audience in effect. Much talk has already surrounded the movie, with comparisons to another conundrum of filmmaking, The Room. If things go well at the festival, this could mean a nice cult status for Breen and this sincere, bizarre, and perhaps misguided attempt at something wholly unusual.

Fateful Findings plays at Egyptian Theatre on May 25th at 11:55pm.

Final Grade: C


Benjamin Nason is a writer, film-maker and critic from the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his cat Lulu.

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