A scene from “The Catch.” Contributed photo

WATERVILLE — The Maine International Film Festival, now in its 24th season, is back in town and is bringing a slew of fresh material to central Maine audiences, who have been downsized for a year and a half.

Welcome Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer’s “The Catch,” a story that follows young Beth McManus’ return to her estranged family in coastal Maine (filmed in Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts).

On these storied brisk and windy shores, we meet her troubled lobsterman father, Tom (Bill Sage of “American Psycho”) his new wife Lily (Emy Coligado, “Crossing Jordan”) and her brother Bobby (Kyle Gallner, “Interrogation”) along with local natives, who are trying to fend off the sticky hands of an oily business hack (Jere Burns, “Justified”), who fronts for a company that’s attempting to build a processing plant, corporatize the local harbor, and possibly open it to the world of Starbucks and Burger Kings.

All of this, of course, would be anathema to the McManus family and lobster fisherfolk, who have been lobstering there for four generations.

We begin with Beth McManus (Katia Winter) fleeing some big city in a hurry, from demons we’re not privy to. But a need for money is whispered in the shadows. We soon learn that she is with child.

Trouble, it seems, follows Beth like a stray puppy. Once home, she runs into an old boyfriend, Dicky (James McMenamin, “Orange Is The New Black”), a bottom-feeder loser who has a plan to hijack drugs that are boating down from the north. How well will that go?

One can imagine the potential for stress, violence, murder and assorted mayhem. Did I mention drug runners from Canada? That’s only a small bomb that floats in gray sea smoke, but one that will eventually explode in the end.

Balzer brings along a host of gifted artists who aid him in painting one of the most gorgeous visions of our coast.

Cinematographer John Wakayama Carey, aided by the delicate touches of colorist Jamie O’Bradovich, does the best job in years of capturing the elusive light of Maine.

There are a host of other collaborators who designed this film for the theatrical experience. Foremost is a haunting score by Ariel Marx, and a sound design full of the whispers and thunders of New England’s soul.

“The Catch,” written and directed by Balzer, stunned viewers at the 2021 Indy Film Fest, where it was awarded the Grand Jury Award for Best Feature, also, the Best of American Spectrum Prize. The film was lauded with Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Film of the Festival at the Manchester International Film Festival.

Stars Sage, Winter, Gallner, McMenamin, Coligado, and Burns all helped Balzer’s dream come to the screen.

Screenings of “The Catch” will be at 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre in Skowhegan, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Railroad Square Cinema Theater 1 in Waterville.

For tickets and more information, visit MIFF.org.

 

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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