Review: Samuel Bleak (2011)

Steve Rhodes Steve.Rhodes at
Mon Mar 7 17:55:52 EST 2011

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2011 Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****):  ***

SAMUEL BLEAK, by writer, director and star Dustin Schuetter, is a quiet
but powerful film of love and redemption, as well as anger and revenge.
While its plot is relatively simple, the script gives its key characters
just enough ambiguity to keep the audience unsure of the full meaning of
their actions and where the story is headed.  And, when the twists come,
they are never so far out of left field that they have you feeling

As the title character, Schuetter plays a disheveled mute who looks like
a modern day Robinson Crusoe.  Twenty-three years old, Samuel left home
at age 8 after a tragedy.  Although most people believe he was long gone
or dead by now, Police Officer Ruben Ramirez (David Zayas from "Dexter")
accidently finds him deep in the woods at a remote cabin.  Samuel's
prized possession is an old typewriter with which he has written his
story.  Surprisingly, almost everyone avoids reading it out of concern
for his privacy.

When we meet Samuel's father, played chillingly by James Russo, we begin
to understand why Samuel left.  A very cruel man, his father is a drunk
who regularly beat his wife (Jaime Murray, also from "Dexter").  Since
Samuel left when she died, our minds start trying to piece together the
puzzle, but, just when we think known all of pieces, we find out that
there are more parts to the story.

Among the film's many delights are the subplots, which add to the
story's poignancy.  One of the smallest but best of these comes with a
romance at a mental institution where Samuel initially goes to stay.
Christine Kelly plays a charming and touching girl named Katherine, a
suicidal patient who falls for Samuel so much that she asks if she can
get some make-up.  Continuing with the film's fine casting, Deborah Kara
Unger plays the small hospital's only psychiatrist and the wife of
Officer Ramirez.

Overall, it is a film that will stay with you, especially its quite
believable and indelible characters.

SAMUEL BLEAK runs 1:45.  
The film is being shown as part of San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival
(, which runs March 1-13, 2011.    

Email: Steve.Rhodes at

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