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Movie review: 'Meskada'

The mystery isn't the point of this mystery.

December 02, 2010|By Mark Olsen
  • Nat Collins (Grace Gummer) and Eddie Arlinger ( Kellan Lutz) get close in "Meskada."
Nat Collins (Grace Gummer) and Eddie Arlinger ( Kellan Lutz) get close in… (Red Flag Releasing )

In "Meskada," the investigation of the murder of a young boy in an affluent community leads a detective back to the poorer nearby town where he grew up, a place he has struggled to leave behind. Long-simmering tensions come to a boil between rich and poor as pressure is exerted in ways both subtle and overt.


FOR THE RECORD:
The caption on an earlier version of this article identified Rachel Nichols as the actress with Kellan Lutz. He is in the scene with Grace Gummer. Also, the caption had misspelled the movie title as "Meksada."

With an able cast heavy with familiar if not exactly famous faces, including Nick Stahl, Rachel Nichols, Kellan Lutz, Jonathan Tucker and Norman Reedus, as well as Grace Gummer (yes, daughter of Meryl Streep), the movie is the second feature by writer-director Josh Sternfeld.

Though it is always of interest to see a film that actually tries to explore the too-often unspoken issue of class and economic disparity in America, it is likewise interesting to note that here the undertones and subtext overwhelm the story proper, as the movie's motivating dead-child detective story becomes at times an actual impediment to what more obviously actually interests Sternfeld. (That the killers are identified from the beginning also doesn't help the mystery plot.)

Sternfeld, who also teaches filmmaking at New York University, has created a piece filled with well-drawn characters and steadily building tensions, a story told in an economical, unshowy way, but as a whole, the movie never quite builds a solid momentum or finds a true sense of purpose.

Good but perhaps not good enough, "Meskada" can be thought of as solid letter-grade-B work.


"Meskada." MPAA rating: R for language, some violence and a scene of sexuality. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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