Filmmaker Connor Rickman, who had made many short films under his belt, was having trouble financing a feature film.
Rather than wait, he raised $15,000 to self-finance The Whole Lot, a surprisingly rich drama featuring three characters, a barn, and lots of vintage cars.
As you start watching The Whole Lot you’ll get a sense of the film’s direction, which soon falters as Rickman upends any expectations you had of something much deeper.
From a screenplay by Matthew Ivan Bennett, Rickman takes three characters on an exciting journey after two of them suffer the loss of their fathers.
Sarah McLoney plays Della, who, after losing her father, asks her estranged brother Jamie (Aaron Kramer) to meet at their father’s property so she can fulfill their father’s wishes.
Jamie avoided Della and her father’s family and friends after her father’s death. For ten days, Della fulfilled her commitment to family and friends before telling Jamie that his father’s will specifically required that he have just enough of her father’s estate to get a leg.
We’ll never know exactly what made Jamie the black sheep of the family, but the damage he caused carries over into Della’s marriage when her husband Eli (Blake Webb) suffered a crushed hand in a previous altercation.
Della’s father’s place of worship, as I call it, was a barn full of carefully restored cars that Jamie helped him restore.
When Della offers Jamie a car with a declaration of her father’s wishes, old wounds and memories threaten her hopes of a quick hop in and out before Eli sells the whole car to an investor to fund his business idea.
Filming in a single location can be dreary at times, but setting it amidst the splendor of beautifully restored cars provides a unique setting for the ugliness simmering beneath the film’s surface.
Cinematographers Roman Alavi and Denver James Howard make good use of the blustery Utah landscape and the treasure housed in the barn, making The Whole Lot visually stunning.
The three actors run the gamut of emotions as Eli and Jamie fight for Della’s love, hoping their relationship will bring the results they desire. Della falters as they vie for her attention, as one would expect under the circumstances.
The grief weighs on them all, and Della has shouldered the brunt of the past ten days. She’s burned out and wants to put it all behind her and move on. The two men she loves most drive her to the sidelines, leading Della to an unexpected resolution.
While Eli and Jamie create what seems like endless friction, Della reasserts herself, much to the surprise of both of them. Della has all the cards stacked in her favor, and once she gets over the noise they make, she finds a new, hard-earned confidence.
The Whole Lot is a refreshing take on the family drama genre. The ambitious story is living well over budget under Rickman’s direction, promising that its days of self-funding may be over.
The Whole Lot is currently on the festival route.
Carissa Pavlica is the editor-in-chief and staff writer and critic at TV Fanatic. A member of the Critic’s Choice Association, she enjoys mentoring authors, chatting with cats and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with all who will listen. keep following her Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.