“Influence,” a compelling indie drama written and directed by Ryan Moore, takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride through the tumultuous world of a filmmaker.
The narrative unfolds around Patricia Abro, a female filmmaker grappling with both the challenges of her career and the strains on her mental health. As she reaches a critical juncture, Patricia resorts to an extreme measure—she kidnaps a renowned social media influencer. Her intent is to coerce this influencer into accepting the lead role in her latest cinematic project.
The film opens with an intense close-up shot of Patricia (played by Cheyenne Perez), engaging in a self-dialogue, possibly rehearsing how to present her new script. This immediately sets the tone for the character’s internal struggles. As Patricia grapples with her mental health and the relentless need for industry acceptance, the audience is drawn into her world. The inclusion of scenes where she fights intrusive thoughts and burns sage adds a poignant layer to her character, emphasizing the personal battles she faces.
A chance encounter with influential actress Ashley Hudson (played by Grace Kaufman) becomes a turning point for Patricia. Inspired, she pens a new screenplay, “The Blessing,” centred around a young woman’s existential crisis manifested in an imaginary friend. Patricia believes Ashley‘s social media dialogue on mental health makes her the perfect fit for the lead role, setting the stage for Patricia‘s desperate pursuit of success.
The narrative takes a dark turn as Patricia faced with rejection from Ashley‘s agency, resorts to drastic measures. Armed with a gun, she kidnaps Ashley, intending to coerce her into accepting the lead role. As the film progresses, Patricia‘s desperation becomes increasingly palpable, underscoring the importance of her project to her fragile psyche.
Perez provides a well-rounded performance for the character Patricia. You can see and feel her frustration and desperation. She perfectly embodies the role, showcasing all the necessary emotions that not only make the character impactful but also relevant to the story being conveyed.
Kaufman also excels in her portrayal of influential actress Ashley. She adeptly embodies the role of a sophisticated digital media influencer who skillfully projects an image and identity distinct from her true self. Additionally, Kaufman exhibits a commendable range of emotions, seamlessly transitioning from fear to anger, providing the necessary depth to fully realize the complexity of the character she portrays.
Director Ryan Moore labels “Influence” as a Comedy Thriller, a choice that may initially seem surprising. However, the film’s comedic elements are subtle, and the overall tone leans more towards intense drama. The focus remains on Patricia’s attempts to convince Ashley to consider her screenplay, creating a tense and gripping atmosphere.
The film’s minimal cast doesn’t detract from its impact; instead, it enhances the feeling of isolation and desperation that Patricia experiences. There are scenes where she interacts with her family over the phone but we don’t get to see who she is talking to and that also seems to play into the narrative that she seems to be cut off from reality and all that should matter to her.
The audience is taken on a journey into Patricia‘s mind, as the film employs dreamy visuals, grading, and camera movements, providing a unique perspective on her internal struggles.
“Influence” successfully delves into the challenges faced by creatives, exploring the tension between staying true to oneself and conforming to industry norms for acceptance. The narrative also touches on themes of fame, the pressure on artists to succeed, and the facade of concern prevalent in the digital age.
The film’s unexpected climax delivers a shocking twist that not only surprises but also serves as a fitting conclusion, resonating with the film’s overarching themes. Moore demonstrates his prowess as a filmmaker, crafting a narrative that leaves a lasting impact and prompts reflection on the price of artistic success.
I would rate this indie film 7/10.
“Influence” is a commendable indie film that navigates the complexities of mental health, artistic desperation, and the quest for recognition. Moore‘s creation is a must-watch for young creatives seeking a relatable exploration of the challenges they may face in the pursuit of their passions. With its gripping storyline, nuanced characters, and unexpected twists, “Influence” deserves recognition and appreciation from a wide audience.