All Mistakes Buried
Co-writer/director Tim McCann and actor Sam Trammell adroitly juggle the competing realities inside the mind of a slippery crack addict obsessed with returning a pawned necklace to his estranged wife on their impending anniversary. Trammell’s Sonny is an unreliable narrator compulsively dredging up his painful past in All Mistakes Buried (a more suitably ambiguous name than working title The Aftermath), and McCann follows his tortured thought process without qualifiers or judgment.
Trammell, who shares credit for the story with McCann and producer/co-screenwriter Shaun Sanghani, defines Sonny by his contradictions. In flashbacks where he’s a successful businessman and restless husband, Trammell hints at the deluded loner his character will become, and during Sonny’s drug binges and impulsive rages, the actor adds moments of courtly charm and righteous clarity. Sonny’s relationship with his beloved Jennifer is recalled in bitter arguments (real-life partners Trammell and Missy Yager employ some Burton/Taylor bite as warring spouses), and Sonny barely remembers how the alluring Franki (Vanessa Ferlito) affected his marriage, even as she uses her knowledge to compel his participation in a crime.
Cinematographer Alan McIntyre Smith shoots steamy Alexandria, Louisiana, in vivid colors as saturated as Trammell’s sweat-soaked tee-shirt, which adds to the intoxicating feeling of being immersed in Sonny’s fractured psyche. McCann makes some jarring choices, like using Marian Anderson’s soaring spirituals to accompany a character whose concerns are strictly earthly. But even when all the puzzling pieces of Sonny’s existence don’t quite fit, Trammell’s beautifully unhinged performance offers a compelling vision of a grieving narcissist burrowing into the rabbit hole of his own mind.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on January 22, 2016 by Breaking Glass Pictures
First published in The Village Voice, 2016.