August (Ronan Colfer) and Reed (Dylan Grunn) are brothers, estranged after the events of World War One, they try to reconnect, but it seems that they can only find something to work on together when they get involved in finding the true identity of a man called Alexander Aleksy.
This leads to trouble though and soon the brothers find themselves caught up in a feud between a bank robber with a legendary reputation and a young, eccentric criminal determined to take him down.
Whelm is the directorial debut of writer/director Skyler Lawson which feels like it should be the tentpole feature of a seasoned director rather than the first attempt at something so grandiose. Everything from Lawson’s intricate script, accomplished direction, cinematography and production value screams something that took millions to make.
However, Lawson has managed to put together a cast and crew so accomplished that it’s hard to believe that they had so little to work with.
A Louisiana story that takes place during the prohibition era, Whelm feels like anything but the kinds of films like The Untouchables and One Upon a Time in America. Instead, it has the feeling of a western alongside the likes of The Assassination of Jesse James and it’s this mixture of genres and styles that makes it so compelling. Told at a leisurely pace, Whelm wants to draw in its audience and force them to listen to the dialogue while they’re taking in the scenery and the beauty of what Lawson has crafted.
Whelm feels like something an audience may have stumbled across, a hidden gem by somebody who went on to make a series of films which were much better known and surely Lawson will be able to do just that. Colfer and Grunn are the central focus of the film and so therefore their chemistry and believability are crucial, so thankfully they both play their parts well.
However, Whelm may not be for those who are expecting a quick witted, gun totting action drama, although there are moments of immense tension, it pays off best for those willing to pay attention to the details. Lawson may have done the impossible and will surely be a director to watch.
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