by Barry Meyer
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What’s worse than the neighborhood busy body? How about if that busy body turned out to be a meddling witch, as well? This little scenario is the basis for the Indie production of Besotted, a whimsical and romantic story of a witch who tries to cast a spell over the love life of Shep (Jim Chiros), a local fisherman in a small New England village. Shep isn’t handling the breakup with his ex-flame Vicky (Susan Gibney) too well—nor is he handling all the liquor he swigs down to try and forget very well. But Vicky seems to have bounced back nicely when she hires a handsome young college boy (Liam White) as her deck hand. With what I can only describe as a giant chess board, the Witch proceeds to conjure up a rekindling spell that seems to rejoin the old lovers, Shep and Vickey, but naturally, things go array when the young deck hand falls in love with his captain.
The performers in Besotted appear to have been cast from the local Community Theater group, and they do a wonderful job adding some authenticity to their roles. Especially delightful is Susan Gibney, whose aging and bitter fishing boat captain has more salt in her that the sea that rocks her rocky love life. As her drunken ex-beau, Jim Chiros does equally well, his aloof charm giving his loutish Shep an endearing quality that makes us cheer for him. You just can’t help but be tickled when Shep dresses to impress in a tattered sport jacket, and then feel sorry for him when he puts his foot in his mouth. The only pickle in Besotted comes from the film’s director, Holly Angell Hardman, who cast herself in the key role of the meddlesome Witch. Her direction of her fellow actors is perfectly subtle, but when she gets in front of the camera, herself, she turns hammy and overly animated. [The only other problem I have with this film is the jarring and perplexing ending that only shatters the otherwise pleasant nature of the rest of the film]
The real stars of this small film are cinematographers Stephen Treadway and Howard Krupa. Their photography, especially the outdoor scenes, is impressive beyond the constraints of the film’s shoestring budget. With so many no-budget, straight-to-DVD Indie flicks looking like they were shot on dad’s old VHS cam (with a camera mounted light on it), Besotted is a breath of fresh (sea salty) air. Besotted is a visually charming, whimsically told story that should please fans of small Indie films.
Barry Meyer is a writer doing time in Jersey…and he wants to see your obscure films!
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