Sympathetic stories about criminals have certainly become a staple of genre filmmaking, and as a result, films in this category can often lack originality and feel formulaic. Corey Stanton somehow manages to avoid this problem with his feature narrative debut, Robbery. It’s certainly a strong entry by an emerging Canadian filmmaker.
The film essentially revolves around an ex-convict (Art Hindle) with dementia, who coaches his son (Jeremy Ferdman) to follow in his footsteps by pursuing a life of crime. As one would expect from any story about criminals, things get complicated and messy.
Having an aging criminal suffer from dementia serves as a uniquely creative narrative device that really elevates the film. It adds an interesting layer of intrigue to the overall plot, while also creating an avenue to explore someone’s past sins in an interesting way. It would have been nice if Stanton injected more comedy into the film, as the dementia angle would have certainly made this easy. A bit of a missed opportunity here, but not a major issue.
The performances from the film’s two leading actors (Hindle and Ferdman) were also excellent, with many of the supporting roles being quite solid as well. Robbery is obviously shot on digital, but the cinematography is not overly crisp and seems to have a good balance in contrast. The musical elements are all appropriate and give the film a certain kind of dark ambiance, which is the exact kind of tone it needs.
In the end, Robbery isn’t an overly ambitious film, but it makes due with what it has in a creatively refreshing way. The multiple layers of memory, regret and lasting hate all seem to come together by the time we reach the credits, which is certainly unexpected given the film’s premise. This is genre filmmaking at a remarkably high level.
Robbert is currently playing at Imagine Cinemas Carlton Cinema in Toronto.