Indigo Valley is Jaclyn Bethany’s debut feature film and tells the story of estranged sisters Louise and Isabella. When Isabella unexpectedly joins Louise and her new husband John on their honeymoon through the wilderness, tensions arise and secrets between all three begin to surface in unpredictable and dangerous ways. Written and directed by Bethany, she also stars in the lead role, next to Rosie Day (Outlander) and Brandon Sklenar (Mapplethorpe).

Bethany aims high with her atypical drama about sisterhood, adultery and addiction, and luckily exceeds expectations. The problem with most indie-dramas is they can get a bit too indie, and there’s some clear examples in Indigo Valley where Bethany should’ve gone for less, to make certain scenes more powerful. The soundtrack for the film (composed by Maesa Pullman and Dalal Bruchmann) has been nominated for two Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and though the haunting score is definitely worthy of that, there seems to be an overuse of songs that tends to pull you out of the atmosphere that gets created by the sublime natural looking cinematography. The lighting and rustic imagery are of an exceptional level and is deserving of all praise.

Newlyweds Louise (Rosie Day) and John (Brandon Sklenar) both have different opinions on sister(-in-law) Isabella (Jaclyn Bethany), which becomes clear early on. Bethany wants to explore these characters’ history and source of tribulations by using flashbacks, which at times make the story feel a bit muddled when it isn’t always quite clear where we are in terms of timeline. While this might be a bit of a challenge for some viewers (like myself), Indigo Valley retains much of its impact thanks to a strong cast.

When it comes to being inspirational, Day is positively the strongest actor in this ensemble. It takes a moment to get used to her character, but she’s the most sane and emotive character on screen, and knows perfectly how to make a lasting impression. Bethany and Sklenar’s characters have more lows than highs, but aren’t exactly the kind of people you’d want to hang out with. Their somewhat toxic behaviour is contrasting with that of Louise’s, who seems to be the victim caught in between the two of them. When it comes to their performances, it isn’t always 100 percent effective, especially the chemistry between Day and Sklenar seems off, but they get the job done without ever falling out of character.

Even if we get an equal amount of time with every one of these main characters, the film could’ve benefited from focusing on one protagonist and take it from their POV. Nonetheless, Bethany successfully graduates to the next level of her career, that can only get more refined and perfectionized from here on out. Her film may not push any boundaries, but we definitely haven’t seen the last of her.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Indigo Valley is now available nationwide digitally via VOD on Amazon, iTunes, AppleTV and additional platforms. 

Review – ‘Indigo Valley’

Reviewed online, September 7, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 74 min.

PRODUCTION: A Bettye Katherine Edwards Films, Buffalo 8 Productions, Garnet Girl, Red River Studios production. Producers: Courtney Harmstone, Mikhail Makeyev. Executive producers: Lisa Black, Theo Dumont, Michael Ellingburg, Matthew Helderman, Scott Newton, Michael G. Wallace.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Jaclyn Bethany. Editor: Selinda Zhou. Cinematography: Irene Gomez-Emilsson. Music: Dalal Bruchmann, Maesa Pullman.

WITH: Rosie Day, Brandon Sklenar, Jaclyn Bethany, Atli Oskar Fjalarsson, Greta Bellamacina, Katelyn Kapocsi, Jennifer Lauren DiBella, Winter Dunn, Caroline Newton, Tessie Herrasti.

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