How We Got Away with It concerns Henry (McCaleb Burnett) who has just been released from prison on the verge an annual weekend getaway with a group of friends to his hometown. A sudden tragic turn of events causes some of them to respond in a violent manner.
When one is a credits reader they may be leery seeing one of the actors listed as one of the writers and director as well. However, this film does have a very cinematic start and flourishes throughout. Moreover, its ensemble nature, for the most part, feels organic and not as solely a showcase.
The film builds mysteries, throughout but how big they are and how much they should be guarded is one of the main struggles of this film. Subtext swallows text; while that is a higher-class problem to have than the opposite it presents a challenge of its own, which is keeping interest through the subterfuge. The subterfuge can become either a beautiful smoke-screen to a gorgeous reveal or a frustrating encumbrance when a clearing is reached. Here it ends up being more the latter as some of the information revealed is unsurprising, or doesn’t change the game. Ultimately it feels like the film plays coy for far too long.
This even extends to the characters and their relationship to one another. Now that does end up being clearly by design as events unfold. However, there is a cumulative effect to all these facts being played so opaquely, as in the end all the scenes aren’t intrinsic in leading to the big reveal and something more tangible to hold on to would be nice. The issue being that the dialogue is precise enough, and the actors are en point enough that you know they’re driving at something, but are not always sure of what. There needs to be a scrap thrown now and then. After reveals there are scenes that play out perfectly, but then the cycle on consistent tenuous engagement recommences.
Even when some satisfactory answers and information are revealed it proves a bit more frustrating because in the end it’s not that far from succeeding as a whole. It’s a film that’s belabored and too “cute” for its own good.
This especially proves true when it comes to the sequence that illustrates the title. It ends up being a second example of Becker (Jon Lindstrom), the detective, nearly Holmesian intuitions, powers of deduction and evidence gathering. It’s another double-edged sword: it’s cinematically handled and to an extent respects the audience’s intelligence, on the other hand its incredibly convenient and quick.
When all is said and done, it’s a different approach to a fairly standard story that should find an appreciative audience, it just didn’t hit home here.