13 minutes, 2021.
Directed by Lindsay Gossling.
With Trace Adkins, Thora Birch, Peter Facinelli, Anne Heche, William Peltz, Amy Smart, Paz Vega, Yancey Arias, Tokala Black Elk, Davi Santos, Laura Spencer, Sofia Vassilieva, Allyson Cristofaro, Gabriel Jarret, James Austin Kerr and Shaylee Mansfield .
Four families in a city of Heartland are tested in a single day when a tornado strikes, forcing paths to cross and redefining the meaning of survival.
A tornado hits the fictional American town of Minninnewah. However, in the manner of a lazy allegory, 13 minutes (Courtesy of director Lindsay Gossling, writing a story of herself and Travis Farncombe) The Real Storm is all the truth and drama bubbling to the surface for these residents. 13 minutes attempts to provide social commentary on everything from abortion, homophobia, mother-daughter relationships, racism within interracial communities and immigration without satisfactory results. The results are actually quite dismal; a preview plot featuring characters lasting around 30 minutes and an emotionally lifeless 40-minute sequel to the impending disaster.
It’s also a shame given that the film, for the most part, has lofty intentions and a surprisingly stacked cast of well-known actors doing a decent job. These characters are divided into four families; a racist and fanatic farmer (Trace Adkins) unaware that his son (Will Peltz) is gay and is dating one of the migrants they employ, 19 (Sofia Vassilieva) learning that she is about two months pregnant and struggles to decide what she wants to do with the baby while breaking up with her older boyfriend (James Austin Kerr) unwilling to step up and support if she chooses to raise the child, Amy Smart’s Kim as as a storm analyzer researching what can be done to make this town better able to cope with tornadoes with as little as 13 minutes to seek shelter, and Ana de Paz Vega is dating undocumented immigrant Carlos (Yancey Arias) pursuing the American dream by seeking to buy their first home.
When it comes to mothers, Tammy, Anne Heche’s mad nun, no longer understands Luke’s coming out, while Jess (Thora Birch) supports emotionally when her daughter Maddie announces the news of her pregnancy. If there is one scenario that takes more time than the others, it is this one, and unsurprisingly since it is the most engaging of the group (which does not necessarily mean much). After this heart to heart, Maddie flies off to keep Kim’s daughter silent. As the day progresses, it becomes more and more evident that catastrophic destruction is brewing, and to the film’s credit, that short burst of chaos is shot well. The characters still act like unforgivable morons, and some of them don’t make sense from a time perspective, but there is a brief moment of intensity and entertainment.
The same can’t be said for the tornado’s immediate follow-up, consisting of long scenes of characters navigating through the damage and trying to locate their loved ones. Of course, some relationships are now more severed than ever (it’s certainly a choice to have the arrival of the tornado itself triggered by Luke revealing himself to his father). Bodies are seriously injured and lives are changed forever. Clearly the filmmakers are trying to show how community issues can instill compassion in individuals, yet everything here rings hollow. None of this means nothing because 13 minutes rarely sees its characters as characters but rather as vessels for thematic exploration. Considering the narrative is also overloaded with characters and well, the result is another kind of storm. Nobody necessarily gives a bad performance, but 13 minutes is a significant loss of 108 minutes.
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Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter Where Mailbox, or email me at [email protected]