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19 + 6 =

Sole Proprietor [2016] is the story of a CIA operative waiting for relocation who falls in love with a prostitute. is the story of a CIA operative waiting for relocation who falls in love with a prostitute.

Soul Proprietor. There is potential for magic in the limited boundaries of low-budget and independent filmmaking. Without the seemingly unlimited cash backing the Marvel Cinematic Universe the entire concept would fail. Without the time, which boils down to money, to pour into the loving hands of craftsman and artists The Lord of the Rings trilogy would never work. It's no surprise that with money comes opportunities. But it's never a guarantee for greatness. When you take away the money you're left with something far more valuable than a big studio backing your project. You're left with passion, ingenuity, and concept. It becomes a fresh chance to see what a director or editor or actor can do. Looking at films like Pi, Following or Eraserhead will show that a limited budget means nothing when determining if a movie is good or not. Having said that, what Sole Proprietor shares with many failed big budget Hollywood films is the root of that failure. Poor directing, uninspired story and dialog, bland photography and dreadful editing are all members of the same plague of problems that exist throughout the thankfully short runtime of Sole Proprietor.

Character Assassination. A benefit of a low budget film is that it affords the chance to focus on characters, their motives, their emotions and how they all interact. Dan Eberle (writer, producer, director and star of the film) seems to have taken a different approach to the characters, however, and focuses more on the story. This isn't exactly a misstep as much as it's an unfortunate decision since the movie seems to be so character-centric. The story that is focused on is one that feels familiar. With a quick set up and an introduction to multiple characters, it becomes clear that a safe assumption can be made about their paths. How they get to the end of their arcs makes sense through the course of the film, but the why is never explored. With so much at stake for some and so little for others, it would have helped to have understood the motives behind these characters. Instead, they follow the paths they're on without considerations for alternatives or explanation. This coupled with some juvenile and formulaic writing makes it difficult to ever care about these people or where they’ll end up.

Human Needs. Sole Proprietor lacks the depth, ingenuity, and inspiration to hold itself up under any reasonable amount of scrutiny. Its mediocrity becomes frustrating long before it’s over. Our main character is flat, uninteresting and without any personality at all. He grumbles his lines and never offers any human-like traits for the audience to relate to. The idea of falling in love with a prostitute is one that has been done to death, and here the idea is not reinvented. While the CIA operative and his prostitute fall in love, I was left wondering why. There was nothing shared between them, nor was anything learned from each other. There was no connection that I could see and no chemistry at all. There is so little to indicate that their relationship is developing into something more that it became difficult to even know when it had happened.

The Blues. On the other side of the film are two crooked cops that are after a bag of cash. They are caricatures of the crooked cops you see on over dramatic television shows and have no link to reality whatsoever. They only exist to connect two stories with some common ground. It becomes a few characters acting as participants of a Venn Diagram in a way that will shock or surprise no one. Crooked cop number one is a man with a large facial scar and a cringeworthy performance as a mentally unstable loon. Crooked cop number two is a woman with an attitude and a desire to keep things together. They make an unbelievable pair and are unconvincing even as corrupt detectives.

Cuts and Bruises. There is very little to say about the technical merits of the film, so I'll be brief, The editing is rough and when there is action it cuts is so fast you'll be unable to keep up and fully understand the movements the actors make. When there is no action the cuts are made on the cue of reactions and not on emotions and tend to go with no natural flow whatsoever. The photography is inconsistent and uninspired with colors shifting, Dutch angles and meaningless establishing shots. There is a score but like the rest of the movie, it’s generic and unmemorable.

Man With Many Hats. I won't bother going into much depth about the poor acting (mainly the butchered accents), the silliness of many moments during the film or the multiple continuity errors. Dan Eberle at least created something he can, and did, stamp his name on. He wrote a movie, directed it and even acted as the lead. He took a story that while being uninteresting and predictable makes sense and follows through. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. There is no unnecessary character to keep up with. The movie has many shortcomings, yes, but I won't fault the man himself following a passion and doing something many people will never even attempt. He put himself out there. Sole Proprietor refers to the prostitute in the film for not having a pimp but I believe the title better reflects Eberle himself. It seems that, with this project at least, good or bad, he was his own boss. Because of this, there is nowhere else to turn and nobody else to blame when the film ends and you're left wondering who is responsible for however you feel.

Sole Proprietor is a bland and tepid drama of sorts that will frustrate anyone paying attention.

Sole Proprietor
2.0Overall Score
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