I was a bit hesitant to continue watching 88 for the first 15 minutes when I get introduced to its lead onscreen character Gwen but then I kind of stuck to it with the hope to get something interesting. And the film does deliver to some extent. Of course, after some point in time, if you’re a regular moviegoer, you might guess the climax but for a low-budget Indie film, this is indeed a fine attempt.
The film 88 follows a young woman Gwen (Isabelle), who finds herself in a roadside café, with no previous memory as such. With some kind of trauma inside her head, when Gwen finds a gun in her bag which she accidentally triggers wounding a waitress, she goes on the run from the cops, bemused with what’s happening around her.
The plot further reveals: as she starts getting glimpses of her recent past where she is on a revenge-fuelled journey to kill the one who is behind her lover’s death. The narrative although gets at times confusing with two different timelines: one is her present messed up condition and the other is responsible for her traumatic life, it’s a well-filmed yet ambitious project.
Some of us might feel a bit of Memento type astuteness as far as film-making is concerned but nowhere close to Christopher Nolan’s mind-bender as the suspense in ‘88’ doesn’t hold the plot for long with uneven narrative. Nevertheless, Isabelle in a dual role certainly drives home with a commending performance. You most likely admire her acting as a cigarette-smoking cattish nature badass in her flashback and a childlike confused amnesiac in the present.
I have not heard much of the director April Mullen but must admire her attempt in making such a fast-paced thriller with some cool ideas like the one with extensive use of milk rather than alcohol, although I don’t like the tonality of a few scenes, especially when Gwen from nowhere shots at the dinner which seems very funny to me and then the killing of cops as if there is no value of life.
Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, Jesse McCartney, Michael Ironside
Directed by: April Mullen
Release date: 6 January 2015 (US)