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With: Deniz Michael
Written by: Deniz Michael
Directed by: Deniz Michael
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 75
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

Solitary Fracture (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Loneliest Number

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Solitary Fracture on DVD.

Solitary Fracture is currently pending an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first and only film written by, directed by and starring one man, as well as taking on the music composing and editing duties. (He did have help on the cinematography.)

Filmmaker Deniz Michael tells the harrowing story of Mike Peters, a slightly pudgy, ordinary-looking guy who wouldn't stand out in a police lineup. He wears a tie to his office job, making sales calls. One day he oversleeps and gets fired. He diligently looks for more work, but gets depressed and stops leaving his apartment, preferring instead to fall asleep in front of the hissing snow on his television set. These events are punctuated by shrieking snippets of nightmares. His landlady throws him out and he begins living out of his car (Michael wears his hair in a buzz cut for the film's first half, then long and shaggy for the second). Before long, someone even steals his car, forcing Mike to check into a hotel room and drink himself into oblivion.

Michael is a competent enough actor who gets a lot of mileage from his onscreen bursts of anger and profanity. He's certainly an everyman, but perhaps lacks the screen presence to make him appealing in this capacity. It sounds like a catch-22, but for a story this unrelentingly bleak, it would be a much better trek if we had someone like Johnny Depp to watch.

As for the technical side, the black-and-white photography is a plus, especially when Michael manages to get out of the drab office and bedroom sets. He makes effective use of offscreen voices to help further the story (his landlady barks at him from behind the door, and other people talk to him via the phone or over a bathroom stall), but the poor sound mix draws attention to the trick.

Solitary Fracture's best asset is its score, a brooding, spooky thing that crawls under your skin and effectively underlines the film without overcoming it.

All the while, I couldn't help thinking of another film I saw a few years ago on the same topic, Maria Geise's Hunger (2001), which was based on a novel by Knut Hamsun. That film followed a poor writer as he lost his apartment and took to the streets, but it juxtaposed its misery with small victories and heartfelt moments; it was a moving experience. Solitary Fracture is certainly an admirable accomplishment, but it could have used a few such rewards to accompany its brutal punishment.

Solitary Fracture also reminded me of the tormented, black-and-white films of James Fotopoulos, though the sheer, unhinged imagination of his works makes them a kind of carnival spectacle.

Deniz Michael does not currently have a distributor for Solitary Fracture, but you can contact him and order DVDs through his website: ww.solitaryfracture.com. The widescreen DVD is nicely produced for a low-budget item, and it contains a very good little trailer for the film.

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