US | 2013 | Directed by Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly
Logline: Two teenage best buddies plan to leave their small-town trappings, but find more than they bargained for when they become embroiled in the criminal activity of one of the fathers.
Documentary filmmakers Gaudet and Pullapilly turn their talents to the feature and have crafted a solid coming-of-age drama, one that bristles with a thriller edge. Beautifully shot, and superbly acted by a fresh-faced bunch that includes the daughter of Kiefer Sutherland, a new Australian hearthrob, and Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, Beneath the Harvest Sky is sure to be one of the American indie sleepers of the year.
Dom (Callan McAuliffe) is working on the potato fields of Van Buren, a Maine country town that borders with Canada. It’s his final harvest, saving the money so that he and his pal, Caspar (Emory Cohen) can get the hell out of dodge. On Dom’s bedroom wall is a large map of America with a tag by their town saying “You Are Here, But Not For Long.” The harvest break can’t go fast enough, and Dom’s seen enough blue potatoes to last him a lifetime.
As close as they are as friends, Dom and Caspar couldn’t be more different. Whilst Dom is responsible and committed, Caspar is a volatile, aggressive, and impulsive. Harvest acquaintance Emma (Sarah Sutherland) is quietly pursuing Dom, while Caspar is cruelly stringing along the impressionable young Tasha (Zoe Levin), whom has dropped a pregnancy bombshell in his lap.
Clayton (Aidan Gillen), Caspar’s dad, smuggles pot and pills across the border, ingeniously hidden within his Ute. His anxious brother Badger (Timm Sharp) is the mule. The criminal business is ticking over nicely. Caspar gets a cool wad of cash from dad whenever he delivers a bunch of stolen pharmaceuticals from a breaking and entering. That dirty money goes straight into the duffle bag hidden beneath the floorboards in the dilapidated, derelict wooden home on the outskirts of town. The same place where he and Dom shoot spuds from their homemade potato cannon.
Like a well-etched novel, Beneath the Harvest Sky tumbles along, the narrative and character threads being tugged a little tighter as the plot thickens. The tone and atmosphere is reminiscent of the impressive subtleties and complexities of Shotgun Stories, another tale of small-town dysfunctional relationships and inexorable wrongdoings. This is dark harvest moon on the rise.
Beneath the Harvest Sky screens as part of the 9th Possible Worlds – US & Canadian Film Festival, Sydney, Saturday 9th August, 6.30pm