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The Misguided (2018) - Movie Review

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The Misguided - Movie Review

3 starsLord Marmion of Fontenaye would be proud.  His quote from Sir Walter Scott's long romantic poem about tangled webs woven in the act of deception fits perfectly here with Shannon Alexander's drug-dealing The Misguided.

Perth, Australia.  Summers here, lasting from December to March, are typically hot and dry.  The city is Australia’s fourth most populated area.  It is; however, its most isolated city with Adelaide, the nearest community, being about a 3-hour flight away.  Perth is where writer/director Shannon Alexander’s debut, The Misguided, takes place and perhaps that is why the film feels as languid and as isolated as it does.

With low-key shot scenes and VHS tape-style glitches as its artistic angle, this laidback tale about a university dropout and his drug addicted brother and the girl between them is both dramatic and comical in its rollout.  Levi (Caleb Galati), who can’t hold down a job, arrives at his older brother’s pad to stay for a spell.  His brother, Wendel (Steven M. Johaljevich), is more of a loser than he is and, as he can’t stop himself from catching whatever high he can, uses more drugs than he does sell them. 

This simple fact causes all sorts of hitches for the both of them, especially when Wendel's ex-girlfriend Sanja (Jasmine Nibali) shows up needing the car that Wendel borrowed from her and never returned.  Nice guy, right?  Fortunately, Levi picks up in areas where his brother is lacking.

A romance begins between Levi and Sanja and it starts with Levi returning her vehicle; cleaned-out and smelling like new again.  Ah, the simple things.  We see the two of them playing pool, sharing moments together, and swimming in the backyard pool.  It’s all blossoms and sunshine until Sanja’s father (Athan Bellos) weighs in on their situation…and the drugs he believes to be involved.

But the returning of Sanja’s car causes all sorts of deadly problems for Wendel and, soon enough, Levi has to make decisions.  He can end his plans to start a life with Sanja and, as family comes first, decide on the fate of his brother instead or he can just jet with the girl of his dreams.  But is she?  And why would he go the distance for his brother? 

The 88-minute film, also filmed and edited by Alexander, has nice scenes of quiet inspiration.  Nothing is announced in this; things just happen.  Like life, his camera records the quiet moments and in them we see some vision.  Whether it be with Bellos on the beach, running, as the surf breaks, or later with Nibali on a swing as she gets pushed by Galati.  There are other occasional instances of framing that keeps this flick afloat, but largely the film is so blasé that it bucks too many cinematic conventions leaving us feeling a bit desperate for, of all things, tension. 

Alexander’s subdued direction throughout the movie is the film's blessing and its curse.  The film is unique in that it doesn’t actually create some much-needed suspense until much later as the storyline turns toward its true nature: a deadly game of drug dealing and trickery.  The movie is good.  The performances are pitch perfect, too.  The pacing; however, is challenging and a bit opaque, which is bound to limit both its appreciation and its audience reach.  It may be a short movie but it feels like some fine-tuning in the editing room is still needed to bring this to a better form.

The Misguided opened in Fort Worth and in Los Angeles and, featuring the Golden Globe nominated Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) in her film debut as Sanja’s younger sister Vesna, is now available nationwide on VOD and digital HD, courtesy of Early Autumn and Indie Rights.  It is a strong debut from a director I hope to see more from soon.

The Misguided - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R.
88 mins
: Shannon Alexander
Writer: Shannon Alexander
Katherine Langford, Anna Philp, Caleb Galati
: Comedy | Drama
Memorable Movie Quote: "You're not anything like your brother, are you?"
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 30, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Alexander takes a realist right to use to dialogue and behave, but the inexperienced actors nonattendance the screen appeal to magnetism this off in a compelling mannerism. Jasmine Nibali stars as Sanja, who may be the most misguided atmosphere of all. After dumping her drug dealer boyfriend Wendel (Steven J. Mihaljevich), she suddenly hooks taking place with than his brother Levi (Caleb Galati) as soon as he rolls into town. When father disapproves of her choice, she and Levi move in after that Wendel and his added lady, along plus plans to depart town. That rule away is thwarted by Wendel’s demons, and the hold of brotherly high regard.

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The Misguided - Movie Review

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