Fortunes (2005)

Rating:

USA. 2005.

Crew

Director – Parker Cross, Screenplay/Producer – Matt Salzberg, Photography – Jeff Eplett, Music – Tobin Sprout, Production Design – Dan Jagendorf. Production Company – Golden Fried Productions

Cast

Mike McGlone (James Daugherty), James Urbaniak (Lewis Croshere), Tony Hale (Phil Yount), Diana Henry (Karen Yount), Kristopher Scott Fiedel (Marlon Yount), Brette Taylor (Jessica), Laura Poe (Ruth Simon), Ellen Barber (Ms Venidera), Shannon Parr (Billy), Michael Etheridge (George ‘Gizz’), Corina Katt Ayala (Katie), Maya Israel (Nadia), Ted Sutton (Mr Croshere), Sara Ann Parker (Mrs Croshere), Peter Dinklage (Mike Kirkwood), Alisha Campbell (Cindy Lambert)


Plot

Three friends – successful stockbroker James Daugherty; Lewis Croshere, who works a low-paying job as a tv cameraman and has ambitions to be a writer, although has yet to be published; and Phil Yount, a busy accountant who is always putting off time with his wife and young son to deal with work – go out for drinks. On the way home, they on impulse decide to stop visit the fortune-teller Ms Venidera. She is able to only see two of them and Lewis and Phil draw straws to be the ones. She tells Phil that something terrible will happen to his son Marlon if he does not pay careful attention. When it is Lewis’s turn to go in, he will not tell the others what she told him. Immediately after, Phil begins to keep an overly watchful on Marlon, worrying about the smallest things, driving his daycare worker and wife crazy with his constant fears. Meanwhile, Lewis walks out of his job and stays home, doing nothing. Watching in on the other two, James is sceptical, but then finds that his girlfriend has left him for someone else.


Fortunes is an indie film. It is not a film that had any profile when it came out and quickly disappeared into the backwaters of Sundance Channel programming and was soon forgotten. Neither director Parker Cross nor writer/producer Matt Salzberg have been heard from since and Fortunes is the only film that either has made.

Characteristically for an indie film, Fortunes charts the lives of a trio of urban thirtysomethings and their search for the meaning of it all. Though the film makes an effort to invest in the lives of its characters, they are not interesting as people and the things that happen to them throughout seem singularly ordinary and unexceptional. Parker Cross’s direction is journeymanlike – it is clear that this is his first film as his handling of the actors often seems to be looking for clues, leaving them floundering trying to work out what they are doing and filling the gaps with banalities.

It is a stretch to classify Fortunes as a fantastic film – it has a plot element about the characters going to visit a fortune teller, while the bulk of the film then concerns how they react to the information they are told. The film is careful to never come out and say whether the fortuneteller’s abilities are real and leaves things carefully ambiguous in this regard. (Oddly, indie cinema seems to have taken a liking for these New Age films about fortune-telling – see also the often-similar The Simian Line (2000), which was about a fortune-teller’s prophecy that one of a group of couples would break apart). Even then, of the three plot strands following each of the guys, what comes out of the fortune telling session is something that only impinges on one of them – the story of Phil (Tony Hale) and how he overreacts to the warnings of something terrible happening to his son. Frustratingly, we never find out what James Urbaniak’s prophecy was until the end, while for some reason the plot has Mike McGlone not receive one. The film reaches an ambiguous resolution where we are not sure whether any of the prophecies did come true – James Urbaniak’s may or may not have, while the one about Tony Hale’s son may have but the film eases out of any sense of true danger by wiggling around the wording of what was said.

The performances are generally okay. What one can say is that the central actors at least etch their characters reasonably well. The one performance of note in hindsight is Peter Dinklage. Fortunes was shot in 2002 but released until 2005 and during the meantime Dinklage came to fame in The Station Agent (2003). Here Dinklage is amusingly cast as a psychotic ex-con who goes off his head when anyone reminds him that he is short.



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