Oliver Sherman (2011)
A film pretty much designed to be described by the word “brooding”, Oliver Sherman is a quietly impressive movie with numerous moments that make the viewer tense and uneasy, it’s the cinematic equivalent of walking beneath a major lightning storm and expecting to be hit.
Garret Dillahunt is Sherman Oliver (there’s a story behind the title that sums up the man himself, in his view), a lonely veteran who goes out of his way to travel and meet up with Franklin Page (Donal Logue), a soldier who saved his life in combat. Franklin has managed to put the past behind him and now has a wife (Molly Parker) and children to put first in his life while Sherman dwells on the war (he spends his spare time in the library reading books on the subject) and drinks too much. After only a couple of days it’s clear that he’s already overstayed his welcome but it’s also clear that he doesn’t have anywhere lined up to move on to.
Written and directed by Ryan Redford (from the short story “Veterans” by Rachel Ingalls), Oliver Sherman is an impressively intense experience at times, reminiscent of something as powerful as Dead Man’s Shoes.
Dillahunt is fantastic as Sherman, at one moment passive and slow and then suddenly fired up when he feels that he has some purpose in life, while Logue is equally good as Franklin. Molly Parker is also fantastic as the woman directly in between two very different men who used to be exactly alike. The entire, small, cast is faultless and the material is given the support it deserves.
The biggest problem that Oliver Sherman has is a lack of believability as soon as the situation worsens. Sherman’s behaviour takes a nosedive so quickly that you really wouldn’t expect anyone to tolerate it, no matter what connection they had to the man in the past. Those confrontational moments and outbursts from the main character are certainly still mesmerising to watch but they add up to a little too much, a bit more than anyone would put up with.
Almost feeling like a play at times (the fade outs, small cast, precise focus), Oliver Sherman is still well worth a watch thanks to the power of the central subject and the fearless execution but it’s not necessarily something you have to see in the cinema.
Still, I must say that it has made quite a lasting impression and all concerned deserve points for that.
DIRECTOR: RYAN REDFORD
STARS: GARRET DILLAHUNT, DONAL LOGUE, MOLLY PARKER
RUNTIME: 82 MINS APPROX