Wednesday 10 May 2023

REVIEW: A Small Fortune (2023) - Starring Stephen Oates and Liane Balaban

Review by Jon Donnis
A Small Fortune, written and directed by Adam Perry, is a crime/drama film that was originally released in Canada a few years ago and has finally been released in the UK. Although I don't review many films in this genre, I was intrigued to watch this one.

The story revolves around Kevin Doucette (Stephen Oates), a simple and desperate man who lives an unremarkable life on the remote Prince Edward Island. Despite his modest lifestyle, Kevin is burdened with worries as his wife, Sam (Liane Balaban), is pregnant with their first child, and he doesn't earn enough money to support their family, let alone a baby. Kevin's income comes from harvesting sea moss on the coast, but Sam urges him to leave the province to find more stable and well-paying work on the mainland.

However, Kevin resists his wife's pleas and fate appears to be on his side when he discovers a large sum of Canadian Dollars on the beach and decides to keep it for himself. But his luck quickly runs out when a man named Troy (Joel Thomas Hynes) arrives on the Island searching for his money. Kevin makes a series of bad decisions, and the situation spirals out of control, turning the once-peaceful fishing village into a crime scene.

This is a beautifully shot film, although Canadian, there is a strong Irish influence, and if you didn't know it was a Canadian film, you could well be mistaken into thinking it was an Irish one.

It is an age old question that all of us have pondered at one time or another, what would you do if you came across a large amount of cash, no one else is about, do you keep it, with the assumption that if you don't tell anyone, then it is yours, or do you hand it in to the police. By basing a film on such a common and popular thought, it instantly puts the viewer in the mind of the main character of Kevin. Of course, that on its own is not enough for a film, so of course you need the bad guys to turn up to make things interesting, as well as Kevin making frustrating decisions that just opens him up to trouble.

There is a side plot involving a cop called Susan Crowe (Andrea Bang), who suffers casual racism from her stereotypical, grumpy old boss, and various people on the Island, as well the really likeable character of Omer Tom (Bill McFadden) who purchases the sea moss from Kevin, sadly the actor died after the filming of this, and the film is dedicated to him.

This is a nice little film, with an interesting plot, and a decent slow burn, leading up to an entertaining finale. The ending even has something of a twist, nothing major, but enough to draw a smile from the viewer.

The Good
Really well filmed and directed, the scenery is gorgeous, the acting throughout is of a high quality, and I enjoyed the plot, which as mentioned is a situation that almost everyone can imagine happening to them.

A good run time of about 90 minutes, this is an easy to watch film, with a good amount of tension, and intrigue.

The Bad
Some of the pacing is a bit slow, and I would have liked a bit more action.

A decent little film, you will probably only watch it once, but it will have you asking the question of what would you do in the same situation, and perhaps even moaning at the dumb decisions of the Kevin character.

I enjoyed A Small Fortune and score it a fair 8/10