Tribeca 2022: 'The Integrity Of Joseph Chambers' Review
Every now and then it's always good to get a reminder from a movie to not go hunting because whether characters are hunting deer, people or zombies, there's a chance that it'll go horribly wrong. Writer-director Robert Machoian's latest effort The Integrity Of Joseph Chambers succeeds in that narrow path, in form of a character-driven psychological drama. Joe (Clayne Crawford) is your typical about-35-year-old guy, husband and father who's prepping for a solo hunting trip when we first meet him, an activity that he isn't familiar with but deems it necessary supposedly for survival and his masculinity. After Joe wanders the woods for a while, he ends up shooting something that certainly isn't a deer, leaving him to question his integrity and morals.
What is rather obviously impressive about ''Joseph Chambers'' is that Machoian and rest take this simple ''one man, one mission'' setup and twist it around until something comes from it pretty organically. Much of that is on display with Crawford's performance which features couple different kind of breakdowns, yet this very low-key, quiet approach in the few moments when Joe is interacting with others. With that kind of control, it's easy to understand why Oscar Ignacio Jiménez's photography lingers on it so much in mediums and wides while editor Yvette M. Amirian doesn't use much coverage at all to disrupt the very specific flow which lets audiences sit with Joe's anxiety to an intentionally uncomfortable degree.
Machoian definitely has a tight grip on his aesthetics and main character as a director, which just makes you wish more that the script—and specifically usage of already sparse dialogue—wouldn't feel as unreachable. Conversations between Joe and his wife Tess (Jordana Brewster), friend Doug (Carl Kennedy) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character are quite hollow in comparison to the inner dialogue, while also skipping some story beats altogether when things go awry. Luckily for everyone the sound work in the film (headlined by sound designer Peter Albrechtsen) ends up compensating so much for all the shortcomings; way that nature is made to sound so polished while humans bring unwanted noise along with them is really crucial for storytelling here and then the mix runs with that concept, making the balance completely unnatural when Joe's awareness of himself has been utterly demolished.
Smileys: Sound mixing, sound design, Clayne Crawford, directing
Frowneys: Some issues with screenplay and dialogue
Deer diary, you're not going to believe what happened today.