Review by Sean Boelman
Written and directed by Brian Levin, the new mystery-thriller Union Bridge may be one of the hollowest films to come out this year. And that isn’t to say that it’s all bad — there is a lot of obvious potential — but unfortunately, there simply isn’t much substance to what Levin has to offer.
The movie follows a man who returns to his hometown, discovering that there are secrets buried in the community related to his powerful family’s dark past. While this is an intriguing premise with the potential for it to be a fascinating neo-Western, too much of the film is spent following the characters as they wander (seemingly aimlessly) through the landscapes.
These two storylines are intercut, and the result is a narrative that is somehow both needlessly convoluted and frustratingly obvious. It seems obvious that Levin hopes to enshroud the movie with an air of mystery, yet there is nothing particularly mysterious to be found. And because of this, the film is mostly pretty boring.
Another frustrating thing about the movie is that it sends very mixed messages. On one hand, the film talks about how one sets their own destiny and shouldn’t be defined by their family, but there is also a warning about history tending to repeat itself, yet Levin doesn’t succeed in creating a conversation between these two themes.
Perhaps the most damning flaw, though, is that audiences are unlikely to care about the characters. In a movie that is largely devoted to the idea of self-discovery, there is a disappointing lack of dynamism to the protagonist’s arc. And even though the protagonist is contemplating his identity for the entirety of the film, the audience is not let into this introspection.
That’s too bad because the lead actor is legitimately charming. Scott Friend has almost enough charisma to make watching an hour and a half of walking entertaining, but it’s at least mostly bearable. His double role shows that he has a lot of talent and potential. The supporting cast isn’t bad either, but they’re forgettable for the most part.
The movie is actually pretty strong on a technical level too. Apart from the score being a bit heavy-handed at times, the film has a clear style about it that works rather well. The cinematography is eerie, especially in regards to the use of the backgrounds, lending itself to a solid atmosphere.
Union Bridge isn’t a poorly-made movie, but its script just doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a long and tedious journey with no reward at the end of the road, making this a film that one would be better off skipping.
Union Bridge hits VOD on May 19.