Ballast | Chicago Reader

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After a rural gas station owner commits suicide with pills, his devoted twin brother (Michael J. Smith) tries to follow suit with a pistol but survives. Seeking an avenue out of his grief, he decides to lend a hand to the dead man's estranged wife (Tarra Riggs) and angry teenage son (JimMyron Ross), who's started messing around with crack. Lance Hammer shot this debut feature in natural light, using nonprofessional actors, and with its jump cuts, music-free soundtrack, and plaintive Mississippi Delta landscapes it seems as raw as the characters' emotions. Hammer overplays his indie hand with an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending, but his three leads are so credible that their aching, tongue-tied characters linger in the memory. 96 min. (JJ).

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