The Debt is a multi-narrative award-winning feature from writer/director Barney Elliott. It’s a reputable drama, and when The Debt is on a roll, it’s on par with Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic.
The film is made up of three different stories with strong performances: an American (Stephen Dorff) settling out a prickly and laborious business deal with foreign connections, an exhausted daughter (Elsa Olivero) trying to obtain proper medical attention for her withering mother, and an ashamed young Peruvian (Marco Antonio Ramirez) tracking down a wayward llama belonging to his unapologetic father.
The movie may have a title that’s a little too on the nose for its own good, but this overall theme of debt makes each of these stories indirectly identifiable. They compliment each other while also finding their own sustainability. Each plot is also gorgeously shot by DP Bjørn Ståle Bratberg – Bratberg and Elliott need to team up more often.
Using the first and second act, The Debt builds towards “something”, making the audience fascinated with anticipation. However, the final stretch is where the screenplay stops contributing tension and instead overwhelms itself with interconnected challenges and a flimsy reveal. The lives of Dorff, Olivero, and Ramirez (along with supporting characters in their individual stories) start weaving in ways that feel obligated and unnatural. It’s sort of like watching someone cram extra puzzle pieces around the edges of their already completed puzzle.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie