October 29, 2014 by  

AFF 2014 Review – Phantom Halo


AFF 2014 Review – Phantom Halo

Luke Kleintank sports a black eye in "Phantom Halo."

Starring: Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Luke Kleintank, Sebastian Roche
Directed by: Antonia Bogdanavich (debut)
Written by: Antonia Bogdanavich (debut) and Anne Heffron (debut)

In “Phantom Halo,” a pair of brothers, Samuel (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Beckett (Luke Kleintank) are forced to commit crimes, giving all of their proceeds to their alcoholic and abusive father Warren (Sebastian Roche). Fed up with the way things are going, Beckett decides to branch off on his own to make his own money. But when someone from Warren’s past comes back and threatens the entire family, they must find a way to make it out of the situation alive.

The film makes good usage of its ensemble cast with Game of Thrones actor Brodie-Sangster taking the meatiest role and running with it. Though the idea of an entire family (children included) involved in crime may not be wholly unique, the execution of the idea of doing so by way of pick pocketing bystanders as they watch a talented young actor perform Shakesperean monologues is a really fascinating avenue to take. It provides a connection to see parallels and struggles between father and son while giving Brodie-Sangster the opportunity to pull off a multifaceted role.

“Phantom Halo” gets its title from a comic book and character that one of the main characters reads, idolizes and wants to be more like. It is his form of escapism from the troubles at home that he faces. It is also the part of the story that is the least successful. It feels completely shoehorned in, underdeveloped, and never quite connects in the way that director Antonia Bogdanavich wants it to. It is ultimately not a huge part of the film, yet it is present enough to feel entirely superfluous. Otherwise, the narrative itself is familiar in areas, especially in its counterfeiting storyline, yet is written well enough to not become a major issue. There is even a dash of humor that is present when called for.

Issues aside, “Phantom Halo” does a few things very well, including developing an interesting crime-based storyline for its main characters, some very solid performances, and it mostly pushes the right buttons in terms of narrative direction and conflict between its characters. It may not be entirely memorable, but “Phantom Halo” is a film that succeeds just enough in the face of its shortcomings.

Grade: B-

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