Posted: 03/24/2004




by Del Harvey

The fateful reunion of four brothers quickly dissolves into a night of drinking, deceit, perversions, and death. They don’t realize until it is too late that the party they are having is, in fact, a wake.

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Alone in his family’s decaying, long-deserted homestead, the elderly Sebastian (Martin Landau), confronts a blank page, just one of many telling the tale of his family shame. He sits, a writer struggling to tell a tale. “…Each room, every hallway harbors the same shadows as when my brothers and I were young. And in each and every shadow, the same unchanging deceptions…”

We are next taken back in time to the day of Sebastian’s mother’s death. He is a struggling writer who stays home taking care of his mother who lies down the hall on her deathbed. On this particular day one of his brothers, Raymond (Blake Gibbons—Hollywood Homicide) is being released from a 5 year stint in prison. Ray has a mean streak that knows no bounds, and seems to have caused some irreparable trauma to the youngest brother, Kyle (Gale Harold—Queer As Folk). Kyle has cleaned up his act over the past five years, but a few hours in brother Ray’s presence is all it takes for all of Kyle’s worst nightmares to surface, and his hand reaches out for the bottle for the first time in years as he struggles to subdue his own dark internal demons.

At a seedy bar down in town the fourth brother, Jack (John Winthrop Philbrick—Stephen King’s The Langoliers) is celebrating just having been laid off from his job as a security guard. Anticipating brother Ray’s release from prison, he picks up a couple of easy chicks who are only too happy to come back to the house and share whatever alcohol and sex they can get. Upon Jack’s arrival with the two babes, Ray flips into overdrive and the party is on, while Sebastian and Kyle continue to worry about their mother lying near death upstairs.

But Sebastian and Kyle have a couple of secrets they dare not share with their brothers. As the night stretches on and the party dies out, things will come to a head as secrets are revealed and hidden fears and feelings come bursting to the surface with devastating results.

Wake is the writing and directorial debut of Henry LeRoy Finch. Shot entirely on location in and around Bath, Maine in a house that was originally built in 1745, the film has a visual authenticity that is palpable, features powerful performances combined with subtle pacing and a strong literary narrative. Wake was produced by Susan Landau Finch, and marks the first full project she has produced starring her father. Nic Harcourt, musical director of National Public Radio station KCRW and host of the internationally acclaimed show “Morning Becomes Eclectic” is music supervisor, with the score composed by Chris Anderson and Henry LeRoy Finch, which includes original songs written and performed by rising American folksinger/songwriter Ramsay Midwood.

I found this film to be a wonderful find- indie films work best when they’re about character, which is Wake’s strong point. Wake opens in New York on May 28th. To learn more about this film, click here.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, and teaches screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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