One of the best things about Toronto After Dark is the variety of genre films they offer. Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, all are represented. They also show films from my favourite genre: Crime. I love a good heist film. In heist movies there’s no real good guy, so it’s fun to root for the bad guy….or at least a lesser of evil. It’s even more interesting when it’s unclear exactly who the lesser of evils is. Such is the case with Robbery, making it’s world premiere tonight at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival at 9:30PM.
Richie (played by Jeremy Ferdman) is a young thief who’s in over his head. He’s accumulated massive debt with a local crime boss and has resorted to small time thefts to make some money. Guiding him in this endeavor is his aging father Frank (Art Hindle), a former stick up man. Frank can only help so much as he suffers from dementia. But the two work as a team in an attempt to pay off Richie’s debts all the while things are not as they appear. As the story unfolds, there are revelations of additional players with strong motivations.
Writer and director Corey Stanton takes the classic trope of a master thief and his apprentice and breaths new life into it with the addition of mental deterioration. Frank is trying to keep it together and “use it before he looses it”. Richie is in a very desperate situation and the stress is double because he doesn’t know if his getaway driver will remember who he even is. This adds a fresh wrinkle to the already tense moments during a robbery. For most filmmakers, that fresh take would be enough. Not for Stanton as he continues with reveals throughout the film. Just when you think you know all the players and what their motivations are, new information is unearthed, sending the plot down a different path that’s even more fulfilling.
The twists and turns of the journey pay off and that is due in no small part to the main performers of the piece. Hindle and Ferdman have a great father and son dynamic. Their chemistry is noticeable right from their first scene together. Neither character is a “good guy”. They both have major faults that might be hard to swallow. But they exude a likeability that makes you root for them, especially when they are together. As Frank drops in and out of lucidness, Hindle brings about a child-like innocence to his performance that you can’t help but feel for. As we learn more about Richie’s predicament, it’s hard not to empathize with him either. They’re each lovable bastards in their own way.
Sera-Lys McArthur also gives a strong supporting performance as Wynonna, a casino bar maid who attends the same gamblers’ anonymous meetings as Richie. The more we learn about her and her “skin in the game”, the more we equally distrust and empathize with her. The characters in this film are messed up people in bad places yet so damn likable at the same time. When the action in the third act unfolds, the viewer will be pulling for all three characters to come out on top.
Like most films with modest budgets, the entire film hinges on the investment the audience has in the story and characters. Robbery delivers on both counts. If you’re looking for a character driven heist movie with heart, this is a film you want to see. Robbery plays tonight at 9:30PM at the Scotiabank Theatre as part of Toronto After Dark. Get your tickets HERE. And keep checking back for more coverage of TADFF18!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!