Director/Writer: E.B. Hughes
Starring: George Katt, Waylon Payne, Peter Greene, Sayra Player, Judy Jerome and Rosebud Baker
Run Time: 1h 30 mins
“Turnabout” is an independent narrative that has, for good reason, won many accolades on the festival circuit across the country. It’s the story of friendship and betrayal starring men who, to the delight of its audience, portray their characters with the skill and sureness one expects in films coming from a large studio with million of dollars to throw at the budget, rather than an indie project made for considerably less than what a studio can afford. In fact, all of the actors in this film give expert performances, even those who are simply featured extras. Writer/director E.B. Hughes cast his roles beautifully and had to have been pleased with the dailies as he watched them night after night. His actors give you every reason to continue watching even though sometimes his script may have you knowing a few plot points ahead of the game.
We start the film meeting a very troubled man, Billy (Katt) stumbling down the road who attempts suicide in the first few minutes of the film. He would have accomplished his goal but a Good Samaritan helps him and he makes his way to a phone to call an old friend named Perry (Payne) that he knows will help him. Though it’s the middle of the night, Perry meets Billy to lend some support and for a chat. Billy sobers up and realizes things may not be ideal right now but he’s not alone. Fifteen years have passed since they last saw one another in high school but the years fade as the two sit in a diner and reminisce about the old days as well as their most recent ones. Billy seems to want out of his life of crime, alcohol and drugs and is open, if not a little jealous, to hearing what he has been missing out on as Perry recounts to him his business, his wife and his family. However he makes it sound to his old friend, Perry has a life that is far from perfect. In truth, he dreads calling home to his wife, Lisa (Jerome), who isn’t exactly the kindest woman these days, but maybe he enjoys telling her he won’t be home? From an earlier scene, you’ve deduced he’d rather do anything but be with her right now. He and Billy chat for awhile and then decide to continue the evening somewhere other than the diner. Perry feels it wouldn’t be the best decision but as Billy most likely did when they were teenagers, he talks Perry into doing something against his better judgment. Perry and Billy find themselves in a club, one you know that Billy is very acquainted with.
At the bar we see trouble brew for the men. Enter the piercing Leo, played by Peter Greene, who is frighteningly fantastic as a man you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Reminiscent of his performance as Zed in “Pulp Fiction” he intimidates Billy immediately and orders him to drink. Having to now conduct business with Leo, who won’t let him leave, Billy follows him to the back room. Perry is left to watch the dancers who find him appealing. Although he’s experiencing some guilt, the feeling is quite mutual. Once again, Perry knows better but cozy’s up to a dancer anyway and finds himself having a good time. Drugged out and in his element Billy moves the party to a third location. The naïve Perry isn’t feeling very well but agrees to go to a hotel. Billy leaves him for a short time and Perry is now alone with a girl. He knows he shouldn’t be but is taking delight in the taste of the moment… a moment he has never really experienced before. What happens next is jarring but I’d rather not spoil it for you here because outside of the abrupt ending, you’ll like where it goes, even though parts are painfully obvious.
There are many striking elements of “Turnabout” that give it production value and credibility and make it one to see; a wonderful score, first-rate cinematography and superb acting but sadly, no matter how Hughes tries to disguise it, you know what’s coming next, which is the weakest part of the experience. I can’t state it enough how good the performances are, however. In my opinion, “Turnabout” is a successful, must watch independent feature and I see Hughes only getting better, and lovers of the noir genre will be the better for it.
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