It’s a storyline that begins, progresses and comes to a conclusion, but it's one you may have seen coming.
Faith in Destiny
James Choi’s Faith in Destiny looked to be an interesting and complex film about a man struggling with the misfortune and temptations life throws at him; instead this beautifully shot film was let down by a poor narrative and awkward dialogue. I do feel, however, that even with that harsh criticism it’s definitely worth a watch.
From the very beginning you come to the conclusion that it is going to be a slow paced film. Because of the short sharp sentences and very little chemistry between the actors, the characters seem to be lonesome, separated from society and without much back story. Despite these flaws, you do feel inclined to carry on watching, as the quality of the filmmaking is almost without fault. With a budget of just $4,000 and a crew of just one, you get a sense that the film is very personal to its maker – every frame and every scene is arranged perfectly. James Choi eases you into each new location and progresses the story well. The neo-noir design the director went for really highlights the tone and mood of Faith in Destiny and you can very easily set aside your own reality of knowing where the film is going.
During the course of Faith in Destiny we are able to understand the mind of Killian (Keith Neagle) who this story is focused on. Killian constantly quotes thought-provoking ideology which suggests that coincidences set the path for your ‘destiny’. This proves to be the underlying objective of what James Choi wanted to show throughout the narrative. You have high hopes for the film to give you what it was capable of giving, a serious film about a string of bad luck and unfortunate scenarios. Regrettably, what it gave instead was a cliché.
I’d say from a filmmakers point of view, this was a great example that demonstrates what digital film can offer. There are some beautiful shots that highlight the essence of each scene and each emotion the director aimed for. Unfortunately, his over-reliance on using cigarette smoke to create an atmosphere does spoil the aesthetic on occasion. The direction in which James Choi decided to take Faith in Destiny was primarily focused on demonstrating beautiful shots alongside superb colour and dramatic atmosphere, to which he succeeded admirably. What Faith in Destiny lacked in gripping storyline it made up for in quality. Each new scene was thoroughly diverse and almost never the same – quite a feat considering just how small the budget was and for a film that lasts 1 hour 20 minutes.
The idea of neglecting this film because of its uncomfortable storyline should not be something you contemplate. It’s a storyline that begins, progresses and comes to a conclusion, but it’s one you may have seen coming. Either way, you’re left a little dissatisfied and uneasy. If you can appreciate the film for its aesthetics, which I hope many of you will, you will understand and appreciate the effort and determination to showcase a neo-noir style and high quality filmmaking from director James Choi.