11:55 – LA Film Fest Review

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Westerns have been a facet of film history ever since the beginning. Although the era of the Western is long gone, its influence can still be found in Hollywood today. One of the most popular Westerns is Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon, an intense film that dealt with an impending duel at “high noon.” Ari Issler and Ben Snyder looks to bring that storyline into modern times with their film, 11:55. Is 11:55 able to turn the “high noon” revenge storyline on its head or is it unsuccessful in its attempt?

11:55 is definitely a refreshing take on the “high noon” storyline. Instead of a revenge tale, it’s a captivating moral story about family and forgiveness. But despite a talented cast, there are glaring issues that ultimately cripple the film’s promise.

11:55 follows Nelson Sanchez, a U.S. Marine headed home to his hometown neighborhood he left years ago after he was involved in a fatal shooting of a local drug dealer. Upon his return, he learns that the brother of the slain drug dealer, Nicky (Mike Carlsen), is on a bus head towards town to get revenge. Instead of running, Nelson stays behind in order to face Nicky when his bus arrives at 11:55.

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Although the film could easily be billed as the modern day “high noon” storyline, the film isn’t that at all. The film doesn’t build drama with a ticking-clock scenario, but instead, it builds drama with the various paths that Nelson takes when he continually runs into dead ends. It works from a dramatic standpoint but don’t expect a climactic ending to the film because that’s not the point of the film. Nelson’s problems originated from violence, so he refuses to use violence to quell the situation. It’s an interesting tactic but the plot is more compelling this way.

However, as compelling as the story is, the film is very slow. The film is not only poorly paced but there are a lot of scenes that tend to drag on more than they should. Among them are scenes of Victor Almanzar walking down the street to get to his next destination. Not only do these scenes last a while but there are a LOT of these scenes. If ScreenJunkies ever put together an Honest Trailer for 11:55, they would definitely have a sped up supercut of Almanzar walking down the street.

What the directors get wrong with the pacing, they certainly get right with the look and tone of the film. Directors Ari Issler and Ben Snyder along with cinematographer Tim Gillis is able to turn the run-down urban landscape of Newburgh, New York into the look and feel of a Western. Along with the “high noon” aspect of the film, it’s clear that Issler and Snyder are highly inspired by classic Westerns.

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The cast of the film is solid from top to bottom with hard-hitters like Shirley Rumierk, John Leguizamo, and Mike Carlsen. Everyone portrays their character with such genuine and authentic performances, especially star Victor Almanzar. Even though Almanzar reminds me of Vin Diesel in the way he looks and talks, there’s a lot of emotional depth in Almanzar’s performance. He’s hard-nosed on the outside but one can sense the emotional anguish in him. Almanzar is able to smoothly bring the two emotional sides together.

Just as memorable in her performance is Elizabeth Rodriguez. Elder siblings tend to have that protective nature when their younger siblings are in danger. Rodriguez is able to flawlessly show this side of her character along with the tough-mindedness that she’s typically known for.

Overall, 11:55 is an interesting take on the high noon storyline. Instead of an outright revenge film like The Revenant, the film relies on its compelling story and strong performances to carry the film. It’s just a shame that the exceedingly slow pacing of the film hinders this promising film.

Rating: 3/5 atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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