AFF Review: Two Deaths of Henry Baker
Intergenerational crime drama has an Old Testament twist
By Steve Davis,
11:00AM, Mon. Oct. 26, 2020
Everyone must perform blood penance for the sins of the fathers in this twisty tale of family ties that mortally bind both parent and child.
Spanning a fifty-year period from 1958 to 2008, Two Deaths of Henry Baker ominously begins and tragically ends in a non-descript open field harboring a buried stolen bag of gold coins. In between, it’s a neo-pulpy western about good old-fashioned greed, with nods towards Shakespeare (intertitles appearing in the film quote lines in a passage from The Merchant of Venice) and the Book of Genesis.
The no-man-standing conclusion has the whiff of dramatic nihilism, and it’s nowhere as perversely operatic as you might hope it would be. Still, the film projects both a strong intelligence and lots of ambition, two attributes to be heartily applauded. Most of the cast acquit themselves nicely, particularly Joe Dinicol as a latter-day unfavored son marked by the curse of Cain. The film also features a schizy performance by Gil Bellows as two look-alike brothers, each on a different side of the same coin. Any way you flip it, the guy is a real bad penny.
Two Deaths of Henry BakerNarrative Features, World Premiere
Screening links available until Oct. 29 at www.austinfilmfestivalconference2020.eventive.org.
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Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2020, Two Deaths of Henry Baker