Guilt & Sentence
|Guilt & Sentnece|
|Directed by||Spencer T. Folmar|
|Produced by||Jason Spanogle|
|Screenplay by||Spencer T. Folmar|
|Starring||Daniel Mason |
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Guilt & Sentence is a 2010 American film written and directed by Spencer T. Folmar. The film is a drama following two lost and troubled individuals. Janis, a woman suffering from depression, and Peter, a social worker. They are forever changed after a traumatic event brings them together. A modern American interpretation of Crime and Punishment the film explores paranoia, the effects of guilt, and the power of true redemption.
Janis, her parents both killed in a back-country automobile crash just prior to the events of the film, is depressed. Her helplessness and dejection are known only to one person, Peter, her case manager-turned-companion. Peter has helped Janis pick up the pieces of her disrupted life, but the effects of her parents' untimely passing are all but killing her, too. Peter is the first to spot Janis' suicidal tendencies and sends a 911 team to her hotel room in time to hospitalize her after she slits her wrist.
It is apparent, however, that Janis is not the only victim in this film. Peter, too, is shouldering the impish weight of old pain and self-loathing. His devotion to Janis is more likely his own attempt to thinly veil the awkward loneliness of his past. Janis serves less as his real companion and more as a living magnet for his desperation to muddle through self-doubt and make do with shaky professionalism.
Peter's only confidant is Brett Lyers, a serpentine attorney and constantly-enabling voice to Ackerman's self-pity and evasion of responsibility. Brett encourages Peter to stop spending time with Janis on account that the little goodness he is trying to scrape from their relationship is not worth his time.
After Janis is discharged from her ward she asks Peter to drive her to the country cemetery where her parents have been buried in an attempt to do 'something about closure.' In the haze of her anti-depressants and a few swigs from Peter's already-indulged flask, Janis is left barely coherent in the backseat as Peter careens down the old road. Also clearly intoxicated, Peter swerves beyond his control and runs down an old man, Donald Meyers, killing him on the spot. Awash with his own self-deception, he takes advantage of Janis' deteriorated state and convinces her that she was the one driving, and thus the one responsible for killing the heaped man on the road. The police arrive and breathalyze both of them, disregarding Ackerman's drunkenness on account of Janis' defense that she was driving.
Janis is sentenced to four years in prison without parole, and while Peter escaped the jail time, the weight of his lie immediately begins to bear down upon him. Ackerman's increasing mental and emotional deterioration prompts him to tell Brett everything in hopes of some sympathy and guidance. Following a night of especially heavy drinking, Peter is brought home by Brett and his roommate, Roger, and made to stay with them in hopes of lying low.
Meanwhile Janis is stuck in prison, her cell resting between two inmates who act as the angel and demon on her shoulders, mixing sympathy with dark cynicism. Janis remains steadfast in the certainty that Peter is not only on her side, but is now the only true friend she has. During her months inside she is introduced to The Gulag Archipelago, the famous account by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn containing his musings on his life spent in Soviet prison. David, an insurance lawyer and old friend of her parents, arrives and explains that her case was not given much scrutiny at the time of her hearing, and that he would like to reopen the investigation in hopes of reversing her sentence.
At the same time Peter begins to slip into constant paranoia. When Peter receives an anonymous note explaining that his secret will be made public unless he perform an act of thievery for the blackmailer, Brett consoles him by saying that "He could've asked you to murder someone..." His stupor becomes spiked with panic. Peter is sent a key and safe combination and arrives at his destination at night, breaking into a lonely apartment to retrieve a collection of confidential documents. The tenant of the apartment catches him in the act and gives chase. Peter dodges out of the way and the assailant trips.
David visits Janis a final time with enough evidence to assert that the driver had to have been Peter. Janis is stricken, but the evidence and gut-feeling offered by David becomes increasingly incontrovertible. Meanwhile Peter flees from the scene of his attempted robbery and seeks refuge at his favorite bar. He jumps the counter and pulls out a pistol, frightened to the point of madness. The bartender talks him down and asks him to give himself up to the police.
He does, and is sentenced to ten years in prison following Janis' release. She visits him and explains that while she is disappointed in Peter, she is neither angry nor unwilling to forgive him. In a last-ditch effort to again evade the blame for his circumstances, Peter insists that the whole situation was Brett's fault, due to his constant and malignant encouragement. Regardless, Janis offers Peter The Gulag Archipelago and a copy of the Bible. She exits after telling Peter that while all of the evil in the world cannot be conquered entirely; the individual evil in each person can be constrained, and encourages him to do so.
- Daniel Mason as Peter Ackerman
- Stormi Rebo as Janis Fehling
- Britt Reinke as Bret Lyers
- Stephen Fenush as Donald Meyers
- Kristyna Smulligan as Dr. Cindy Reams
- Paul Monella as David Bailey
- Jacob Strouse as Joe Patton
- E. Berhard Warg as Roger Clemens
- Mark Hanslovan as Young Peter
- Robert Hall as Jake
- JoAnn Cirillo as Doris
- Elizabeth Canner as Sandra
- Sandy Reinke as Tiffany Patton
- Leesa Folmar as Librarian
- AnnaLiese Nachman as Lois
- Samantha Smitchko as Crystal
- Nicholas Dittman as Devon
- Brandon Kephart as Young Bret
Guilt & Sentence' premiered at the historic Rowland Theater in Philipsburg, Centre County, Pennsylvania on June 19th, 2010, to an audience of over 500 paying viewers. It currently sits at an 8.2 on IMDB from audience reviews.
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