Starring: Caleb Galati, Jasmine Nibali, Steven J. Mihaljevich
Director: Shannon Alexander
Running Time: 88 mins
The Misguided is an Australian film about a young man who finds himself in crisis as he is forced to betray his girlfriend in order to save his brother from a deadly situation.
Independent films often bring about a real sense of genuine, down-to-earth drama, the likes of which can often be more powerful than anything Hollywood can come up with. When it comes to The Misguided, that genuine quality is palpable throughout, but the film unfortunately lacks in a certain energy to really grab you with its drama, despite featuring a strong central performance from Jasmine Nibali, as well as professional editing and camerawork throughout.
Let’s start with the positives, with the fact that, for a film made on a relatively low budget, The Misguided really looks the part. Save for a couple of basic issues with sound mixing from time to time, the film is really well-made, something that plays a big part in keeping you engaged in a way that many films of similar budgets often don’t manage to do.
With good editing, generally strong pacing and some innovative cinematography throughout, it’s fair to say that the filmmakers do an excellent job at bringing all the pieces together here to make a film that looks slick from beginning to end, which I was really impressed by.
Another plus is the fact that, while having that professional quality, The Misguided retains a real genuine atmosphere throughout, allowing you to relate to it in a way that, again, Hollywood films often can’t do.
Above all, it’s the screenplay that makes everything feel so down-to-earth and relatable. On the one hand, the film does a great job at pulling off some good dark comedy, managing to provide entertaining laughs while still retaining its dramatic atmosphere, all performed through strong, convincing real-world dialogue that, for the most part, is engaging to follow.
The only issues with the dialogue come in the form of some of the performances. On the one hand, the likes of Jasmine Nibali do a fantastic job, and manage to make their dialogue both convincing and riveting throughout, but there are times when some others, particularly the two male leads in Caleb Galati and Steven J. Mihaljevich struggle to pull off some of their more deliberately vulgar and aggressive dialogue in as convincing a manner, with some of their scenes together unfortunately descending into what feels like an excess of swearing and insults, beyond what is needed to reinforce the film’s dark and earthy atmosphere.
While the film is generally an engaging watch, however, the biggest problem that I had with it is that it just misses the mark when it comes to providing a truly engrossing story, largely due to a lack of energy and passion in the plot that should have driven it right the way through.
There is a great deal of conflict in the story, but what’s most frustrating is that the most dramatic and riveting moments only happen in short bursts that are just too few and far between. The potential is clearly there in a screenplay that has thrilling moments, particularly those that focus on the strained relationships between various characters, but I felt that the story just didn’t carry that energy all the way through, with the parts in between those best moments really dragging on too long, and not keeping me as enthralled as I wanted to be, which was a shame to see.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about The Misguided. It’s a well-made and down-to-earth film that’s both relatable and generally engaging throughout, but its narrative issues ultimately prove too much of a stumbling block to really grab you with its drama, making for a less-than-enthralling watch in the end, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.8.