Freeman (2014) – By Kyle Hytonen

Do the sins of the Father always fall upon those who follow him? That is a big question asked in writer/director Justin Leyba’s short drama ‘Freeman’. The film tells the story of a young single Father named Chris (Marc Edwards) who seems to have a chequered past. We are introduced to him as he is in the throws of a heated discussion with a gravelly voiced mafia enforcer, thus detailing us with that assumption of Chris’ past. Chris just wants to forget what happened in the past, and soon becomes oblivious to this debate when he is greeted with a hug from his young daughter Emily (Eloise Lushina). He seems happier and calmer in her presence.

Chris’ world seems to be a complicated one. His strained relationship with his young daughter is amplified when he discovers that she herself may be a schoolyard thief. As the film progresses we discover that Chris was recently involved with a murder, one that he seems to have gotten away with. The remorse and demons that haunt him daily are brought to the forefront when he has a confrontation with the school principal accusing his daughter of stealing. Chris’ demons not only have him at a crossroads of moral responsibility with his daughter and his own sanity, but they also linger as a prognosticator of what life may be like if his daughter chooses a similar path of deceit.

Director Leyba’s short is well made and intentioned, but I found the story line to be a bit muddled. There doesn’t seem to be a specific reason why Chris was given the opportunity to get away with murder. Knowing something like that is important in developing the character’s dilemma and making the impact of his conflict and his guilt even greater. The film also has a road bump in the final act of closing the thread between Chris and his daughter Emily. Neither character seems to begat anything from this story except more misery and isolation from the other. The performances from Edwards and the young actress Lushina are fine, but there doesn’t seem to be enough depth for them to work with here. Maybe this was Mr. Leyba’s open concept hope of the film’s neutral climax, but overall I found it to be a bit of a downer, on top of already being a downer.