Palace is written and Directed by Andrew Paul Davis and stars Todd Bruno, Joe Martyn Ricke and Emily Sweet.
Here’s the synopsis: Chris, a hardened auto-mechanic, hopes to inspire alt-right rhetoric in his community. He avoids conflict with his girlfriend by wasting his weeknights at the local bar (in spite of his AA meetings), where Chuck plays the village sage. Chuck lives a prematurely retired life in a little room above a bar in rural Indiana. Hospital bills loom, as does his need to borrow money from his estranged daughter living in Indianapolis. Every night he goes downstairs to drink amid oldies and newbies alike, such as Alexa, a college student. Alexa and her two friends want to get their music noticed, but struggle to find an audience for rap at their predominantly white Christian college. This cross-generational portrait of life in the cornfields examines familial dissociation, culture-clash, and the pursuit of music, back-dropped by the crackling soil of early spring-time Indiana.
For Palace, what stood out, and why the film works, is Andrew’s job as Director. While the film is shot beautifully, the character work is tremendously well done. Chris, Chuck and Alexa’s stories have been told before, but the craft behind them is what makes it a job well done. There’s plenty of every-day-folk stories to go around, but not all of them get the care behind them as Palace did.
In terms of the films acting, I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I didn’t expect superb performances, but these actors are unknown to me. The stand out, in this critics opinion, is Joe Martyn Ricke. He had to reach places that most haven’t in their lifetime, and it was believable. I wasn’t watching a film, I was watching Chuck’s struggle with alcohol and reconnecting with his daughter. It’s very rare that actors go so far that you get sucked into the world (in this case, its Grant County, Indiana).
Music, or the score, is always vital for a films atmosphere and feel. Take this years Eighth Grade, for example. Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age treat is so effective because the score gives you anxiety. It enhances the experience. I can say the same for Composer Sean Sele here. It was mostly a peaceful feeling taking in Indiana, but every note of music hit the beat of each scene.
Palace, while not for everyone, is an experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. It’s character work is sublime, and acting is top notch. Andrew Paul Davis is certainly a Director that you want to look out for in the future.