Alexander Wenger, Jordan Wexler Grant (executive)
directed by Cory Wexler Grant
starring Eric Ladin, Betsy Randle, Omri Rose, Cinthya Carmona, Endre Hules, Susan Anton, Patrick Gorman, Casey Deidrick, Chip Sickler, Spencer Irwin, Anastasia Leddick, Gregory Zarian, Jamal Douglas, Ethan Jones, Steve Gelder, Ilka Urbach, Tyrone Evans Clark, Marnee Carpenter, Shaina Krashin, Sheila M. Lockhart, Adam Henry
written by Cory Wexler Grant, music by Dylan Glatthorn
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Aldis (Eric Ladin) is a young painter who has the talent, style and
passion to make it big, but lacks when it comes to selling himself. Enter
Joanne (Betsy Randle), immensely rich art collector, who insists on buying
one of his paintings at a gallery exhibition, even though it's already
sold, but when she offers triple the asking price, she gets not only the
painting but also Aldis' attention - and later over dinner, she offers him
a studio at her large mansion and basically become his benefactor. Aldis
lacks the funds to be pride enough to accept, and of course he also enjoys
Joanne's admiration, so before long he moves his workplace to the mansion.
And of course, he doesn't know that behind his back she meddles in his
private life and cuts him off his girlfriend Lupe (Cinthya Carmona), he's
just happy to have somewhere to paint, especially as two influential
gallerists (Susan Anton, Endre Hules) have invited themselves to a studio
tour in a month, and he wants to have something great to show. The
arrangement works out great, the gallerists are duly impressed, and before
long Aldis has his own show - and here's where cracks begin to show, as
the gallerists don't want Joanne around the show so Aldis doesn't seem
like a mere lackey of his benefactor and will be judged by his own talent
rather who's financing him. Joanne is rather shattered by this, while
Aldis learns from Lupe that it was Joanne who broke off their relationship
- and suddenly there's a rift between him and Joanne. And then the reviews
of the show come in, and he's almost unanimously called a mere copycat of
Ryan West (Casey Deidrick), who incidently was his nemesis and bully at
school who had never shown much interest in art back when but eventually
found success before Aldis, painting in roughly the same style as he does.
Aldis makes a getaway to a befriended artist (Chip Sickler) who has taken
up residence in the woods in the middle of nowhere, while Joanne tries to
think about ways to win Aldis back - and to that end eventually kidnaps
Ryan West ...
This film could have gone two ways, neither of
them good, either a pretentious mess trying to "say" things
about the art world nobody has asked for, or a cookie cutter TV-friendly
thriller that just uses the artworld as a backdrop to essentially tell the
same story over again. Fortunately, Painter falls into neither
category, as it tells its story in a poignant way, full of witty dialogue,
traces of mystery when needed, carried by strong, often eccentric
characters and equally strong performances, and a direction that
apparently has an understanding for the arts but doesn't try to smother
the audience with it, but that takes an artistic approach to storytelling,
making this quite a fascinating movie.