06th Aug2020

‘Limbo’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Lucian Charles Collier, Scottie Thompson, Lew Temple, Peter Jacobson, Richard Riehle, Lauryn Canny, Veronica Cartwright, James Purefoy, Rebekah Kennedy, Mandela Van Peebles, Chad Lindberg | Written and Directed by Mark Young

Killed in an attempt to rob a pawn shop, a robbery that ended in the death of shop owner (Veronica Cartwright), Jimmy wakes up to find himself in a dimly lit office face to face with prosecutor Balthazar (Lucian Charles Collier), who is tasked with trying Jimmy for his crimes. About to sign a confession of his crimes, Jimmy (Lew Temple) is interrupted by his defence attorney Cassiel (Scottie Thompson) – who announces she wants Jimmy to receive a full pardon…

So far so crime drama, Only it turns out that this office is any but an office. Instead it is limbo, the place between heaven and hell and Cassiel and Balthazar are actually battling for Jimmy’s soul. Cassiel’s task? To prove there’s still some good in Jimmy and that he shouldn’t be tried just on this one crime and thus should go to heaven. Whereas Balthazar wants to see Jimmy burn, literally, in hell.

And so Limbo carries on, Cassiel and Balthazar calling witnesses from Jimmy’s life, spanning his birth to his recent death, in order to try and convince each other that Jimmy is, or isn’t, worth saving. From Jimmy’s drunk dad and his junkie mother (Rebekah Kennedy), to the prostitute (Lauryn Canny) Jimmy befriended. At each and every turn it seems Cassiel’s attempt to redeem Jimmy is impossible – each witness testimony never really showing Jimmy as the type of man who should find redemption in death.

But then there’s the other factors. Cassiel can’t get in touch with anyone in heaven to talk to about the case, Lucifer’s minions are pushing for Balthazar to end the case solidly and swiftly. And then there’s the whole idea of just why Cassiel was assigned Jimmy’s case – after all he’s not the redeemable type. And that fact, those questions, on which Limbo hangs its tale. The reason to keep watching is for answers, not for how the story goes – after all, that part of the film is predictable and it’s only the performances of the trio of Lucian Charles Collier, Scottie Thompson and Lew Temple that make that portion of the film worth sitting through. That and the fantastically droll comedic performance from Richard Riehle as the stenographer on the case.

Because without those questions, that desire to see what is exactly going on with Jimmy’s case, that saves Limbo from being dull. The story is told with such mundanity, so slowly paced that it’s hard to enjoy what is actually an intriguing premise. Thankfully when the answers do come it redeems the film somewhat (how ironic that a film about redemption would itself need redeeming). Though is it worth sitting through a story that could’ve been told in a much better fashion as a short film? That’s debatable. What’s also debatable is whether, like me, you figured out the ending about 10 minutes before the big reveal… After all, there’s only two reasons why an iredeemable character would actually stand trial and there would be ANY debate about whether he could be saved.

A flawed experiment in trying to tell a far-reaching epic tale within the confines of one small room, Limbo is out now on demand and on DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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