Two Step by Alex R. Johnson

2:43:00 AM

Texan Thriller Two step by Alex. R. Johnson


Verdict: *** out of 5

Our grandparents are not safe! I just finished reading Moving day, where older residents get scammed by a false moving company, when I saw Two Step. Keep your wits about you when you are old, one day someone may call you, pretending to be your grandson, asking for money. Baffling, but it works. The guy doing the dirty deed in Two Step is Webb. He calls people with old sounding names from a the penitentiary, and gets them to send money girlfriend's account.
But this sick puppy gets scammed himself, when he gets out. Girlfriend leaves with his money, shacks up with his former boss, who tells Webb to settle his debt of ten grand or else.
He sets his sights on the last sweet lady ( I presume, it's always the nice ones that get scammed) but she has died. Her grandson, James, a Josh Hartnett lookalike, who just dropped out of college, inherited her house.  James doesn't know what to do with the rest of his life.  This lost puppy makes the acquaintance with his neighbor Dot, a former ballerina, now two step dance teacher. They hang out, drink, smoke weed. Till James hears former felon on grams answering machine pretending to be him, and asking for more money. James decides to trap him. Obviously his self knowledge needs some work, he is way too sweet, weak and naive for the truly violent Webb. Then it's sick versus lost puppy, place your bets!

I really liked the beginning of Two step. Beth Broderick makes her mark, updating the cliche of the town floozy, making her fun, wise and very witty.
The budding platonic relationship between  James and Dot is agreeable, and full of charisma.

It's the rest of the movie, after Webb leaves prison, that I found confounding. That night I read this quote from Cheryl Strayed Tiny beautiful things (Kick ass essays!)
' Art isn't an anecdote. it's the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.'

Two story reads as a reenactment of a real live crime. Crime and fictional crime are quite different. Real crime is confusing, stupid, without meaning, unexplainable. Fictional crime is meant to illuminate something: the evil within us, or the capacity to transcend, a plan gone wrong or one executed perfectly, the superiority of the criminal, or of the one persecuting. It brings order in the house, or shows us what people do in times of chaos. It is meant to transcend the anecdote. It has to mean something.
That doesn't mean that you cannot make the most nihilist crime story ever, that has his own significance. It tells us about a certain way of looking at humanity.
But Two step just presents us with a crime, and somebody who is trying to defend himself. Not much more. I even though long and hard about the title, quick, quick, slow, but I couldn't make sense of it.
The great missed opportunity is the role of Dot, the woman next door, the one that has more intelligence than all the men in this story. Dot never ever gets to meet the villain. Although she is presented as a main character, when the going gets tough she is standing at her window, watching, not participating.

This is writer/director Alex R. Johnson first motion picture and he certainly has talent, hopefully next time, there will be more focus, more purpose, more meaning.

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