Director – Kasra Farahani, Screenplay – Kasra Farahani & Jason O’Leary, Producers – Kasra Farahani, Kristina Kondrath & Giri Tharan, Photography – Alexander Alexandrov, Music – Lucas James Putnam, Production Design – Margaret Box. Production Company – Bad Guy Good Guy Productions/Ball & Chain/Rekon Productions.
Joseph Cross (Joseph Burns), Alexia Rasmussen (Joanne Burns), Jessy Hodges (Kendra), Kelvin Yu (Andy), C.S. Lee (Doug Park), Jade Sealy (Allison), Ron Marasco (Tourist), Billy Khoury (Woodworker)
In Los Angeles, Joseph Burns is a documentary-maker who had some success with his earlier work but is now struggling to put together a second film about the failing myth of the American Dream. His wife Joanne discovers that she is pregnant. She continues to go to med school to pay the bills but Joseph comes under much pressure to take a paying job. Struggling with his documentary, he begins to go on long walks at night. In his perambulations, he begins to contemplate killing people.
Tilt was the second directorial film for Kasra Farahani who had previously made the moderately well-received The Good Neighbor (2016). In his day job, Farahani works as a concept artist, art director and production designer with credits on a number of high-profile films under his belt.
Tilt seems to be a film about a writer’s block (or more correctly filmmaker’s block) and the disturbing states of mind that this pushes its sufferer into – it follows the same basic path of The Shining (1980), which would have to be the defining work on writer’s block. We see Joseph Cross staring blankly at the walls, getting nowhere and then his endless walking the streets and finally his descent into dark and troubling mental spaces.
Kasra Farahani may well be making a personal work about the creative frustrations of a filmmaker – he, like Joseph Cross, is making a second directorial outing and trying to follow up a moderately successful predecessor. Though whether Joseph Cross’s refusal of day jobs and descent into a disturbed mindspace can be said to resemble Farahani’s own struggles could be anybody’s guess.
On the other hand, I do have to say that the documentary the central character is trying to make – one about the death of the American dream – is actually something I would be interested to watch and is a potentially strong subject, hardly worthy of the eye-rolling and instantly switched-off responses it gets from the people around him.
We know that the directions Joseph Cross’s brooding is going in cannot be good ones. Nevertheless, the scene where he meets a tourist (Ron Marasco) overlooking the canyons of L.A. and offers to take a photo of the man while urging him to go closer to the edge to get a better shot, only to push him over comes as a surprise. Only a couple of scenes later, we see Cross run over a dog in the street. From there, the film starts to descend into dark places, even if it never quite reaches the explosive confrontation you keep expecting it to.
The film does reach a rather chill ending [PLOT SPOILERS] in the scenes where the wife’s sister drops the baby off for her to look after and Joseph Cross answers the door with the wife’s dead body lying only a few feet away behind the couch. The last shot ominously has him taking the baby in his arms, left alone in the house.