review by Marc Heller
Peppergrass is the kind of movie that people are either going to really like, or dislike. Even with the recent Nic Cage movie Pig, a truffle heist movie doesn't necessary scream excitement for everyone. Initially, I even said to myself, another Truffle movie? It is a very slow burn movie. This is where they will lose some viewers. The film spends 30 minutes building up until there is actual conflict. I'm not against slow burn if it's done correctly. In this case, I think it was a 50/50 balance.
The scenes were very well acted, all of the dialogue felt and sounded authentic. The cinematography was top notch. Usually when working with a lower budget, the first victim is the cinematography. In this case the directors actually bothered to shoot something that looked like a movie. And it was very necessary to do that, because that 30 minute slow burn was there to try and get us to invest in the two main characters. Where it falls short is, I never really found either of the main characters, Morris and Eula, extremely likeable. What the slow start of this movie gets right is, we know what the stakes are for these two people, before shit goes sideways. But as quickly as things start happening, it goes back to a slow burn again. For another 30 minutes we follow Eula, as she is lost in the woods, trying to save herself and Morris from the terrible situation they put themselves in. Then Eula comes across another man who tries to help her, and we get about another 20 minutes of straight dialogue until the climax of the film begins. There is not a lot that happens in this film, and it relies on the strength of Chantelle Han's role as Eula. Chantelle carries this movie, and it is only due to the strength of her acting that it works.
I cannot say enough, Peppergrass is an extremely well made movie. Where I struggle with it are a number of choices both the writers and directors made. But I can also understand why they made them. I do not think it is a bad movie. I completely understand why this film won awards.
Charles Boyland does an excellent job fleshing out Morris, but Morris isn't likeable. The movie wants to sympathise with him despite his bad decisions, because we as people should be able to understand that difficult situations can lead people to bad decisions. And I get it. But I felt more for Chantelle Han's Eula than I did Morris, and my concern as a viewer for Morris was less because of him and the situation he put himself in, and more because of that character's importance to Eula who I was more invested in as a viewer. I haven't yet made a rating scale for my reviews, but I guess I will start here.
On a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the best possible rating, I would give this film 2.5 stars. Not because of the pacing, but because I felt that for the film to justify it's slower pace and heavy dialogue, the characters could and should have been more properly developed.