Thursday, September 9, 2021

Small Engine Repair - Movie Review

The Movie: Small Engine Repair

The Director: John Pollono

The Cast: Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, Jordana Spiro, John Pollono, Ciara Bravo, Spencer House

The Story: Events spin wildly out of control when three lifelong friends agree to do a favor on behalf of the brash young woman they all adore.

The Review:
You may recognize John Pollono from his work in TV shows like Mob City and This is Us although this is his first time being both in front of and behind the camera for a feature film. The story, which he also wrote, is a slow, dark thriller that features a trifecta of quality acting performances from Pollono as Frank Romanowski, Jon Bernthal as Terrance Swaino, and Shea Whigham as Packie Hanrahan. Most of the film is set in Frank's repair shop and as the story progresses, Pollono does a great job of making it feel like a tighter and tighter space as the thriller aspect intensifies.

Ciara Bravo, who previously appeared alongside Tom Holland in Cherry, is also along for the ride as Frank's daughter and, in limited screen time, manages to steal the show at every turn. That's not to say that the performances from the three actors aren't great, they are, Bravo just has that magnetic personality that movie cameras can't get enough of. Her character is the driving force of the story even though she's not in the movie very much so it's important that she makes an impression and she absolutely does. 

There are a couple twists and turns that take the story down a very dark path and Pollono is very effective at slowly building the tension ,and then, before you know it, he slaps you with some big time holy shit moments. I think the key to all of this working is the chemistry between the three men and the close bond between them. We see them as life long friends, we see those friendships break down but always understanding that they are like brothers although I suppose even that has limits.

The Verdict:
Small Engine Repair keeps its motor running as a highly effective thriller thanks to strong performances from the entire cast. Impressive debut feature film from John Pollono who wears multiple hats as director, writer, and lead actor.

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