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Movie Review: Exploring Trust, Greed, and Consequences in Robert Shupe’s “Handshake”.



Robert Shupe‘s “Handshake” is a 1 hour and 52-minute crime drama that delves into the intricate web of human choices and their far-reaching consequences. 

Set against the rugged backdrop of the Montana wilderness, the film unfolds after a chance encounter between two strangers leads to a bizarre plan to alleviate their financial burdens.

The story revolves around Bill Burdick, portrayed by Joe Basso, a mild-mannered family man who crosses paths with Devin Fowler, played by Robert Shupe himself, a young man on the run from debtors. What starts as a seemingly random encounter soon reveals shared financial woes and a desperate need for a solution.

Robert Shupe in ‘Handshake’

Shupe‘s screenplay ingeniously navigates themes of trust and greed as Bill presents Devin with a proposition which is to kill Bill so that his family can claim a hefty life insurance payout for him, thereby freeing them from debt. In return, Devin also receives a hefty payday that is enough to clear his debts and save him from the drug dealers he owes.

Despite initial hesitation, Devin, blinded by the promise of financial relief, agrees to the plan. However, as events unfold, the ramifications of their actions weigh heavily on Devin’s conscience, leading to a gripping narrative exploring morality and accountability. 

Both Shupe and Basso deliver nuanced performances, portraying their characters’ vulnerabilities and moral complexities with depth. Devin’s journey from a naive, easily influenced individual to a man grappling with the consequences of his choices is particularly compelling. Likewise, Bill’s seemingly selfless intentions reveal layers of complexity as the story progresses. He comes across as a man with noble intentions, especially for his family. The bizarre plan he introduces does not offer any direct benefit to himself.

There are a few characters and sequences in this film that make it seem like a cheesy comic flick gone awry. It’s as if these characters and situations were either included to alleviate the intensity or the acting and delivery from those specific characters were simply laughable.

While “Handshake” occasionally veers into moments that feel tonally inconsistent or overly theatrical, these instances do not detract from the intensity of the narrative. The deliberate pacing of the film allows for a gradual immersion into Devin’s mental turmoil, culminating in tense courtroom scenes that highlight the weight of his decisions.

The pacing gains momentum during the court hearings, which are skillfully edited to convey that the trials spanned several days.

Visually, the film embraces its indie roots with minimalist set designs and locations, yet it maintains a decent aesthetic, supported by a well-crafted sound score that enhances the tension throughout.

What pitfalls have life laid out for you, and how can they be sidestepped? I believe it begins with a thorough understanding of the choices we make and their potential repercussions. This is the poignant message that this film leaves audiences contemplating.

At its core, “Handshake” serves as a cautionary tale about the unforeseen consequences of impulsive decisions and the traps that life can set along one’s journey. 

As Devin aptly remarks, “Life sets traps, everywhere,” leaving viewers with a poignant reflection on personal responsibility and the importance of mindful decision-making.

Overall, “Handshake” may not be a film that demands repeated viewings, but it effectively fulfils its purpose as a thought-provoking crime drama. With a compelling narrative, strong performances, and a resonant message, it earns a good enough rating of 6/10, making it a worthwhile watch for those seeking an engaging exploration of human nature and the complexities of choice.

In the end, “Handshake” offers a gripping portrayal of trust, greed, and consequences that linger in the mind long after the credits roll.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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