Gypsy (Annunziata Gianzero), a beautiful alternative rock violinist achieving worldwide recognition, abandons her international tour in order to retire with her acclaimed composer husband Lucian (Andrew Borba) to their beachside retreat off Cape Cod, where he will begin work on a follow-up album to his recent hit. What lurks in the background of Gypsy's insistence to her agents and bookers that "I don't play anymore" is the nagging competitiveness between the marriage partners concerning just how much of her influence contributed to his success. Rather than argue the issue, she sacrifices her career for the sake of her marriage, unwilling to claim such a contribution. But the discord (or "dischord") is an insistent murmur, an emotional leitmotif.
Lucian's half-brother Jimmy (Thomas Jay Ryan) whom he hasn't seen or heard from in 10 years, but who has stayed abreast of Lucian's career, suddenly calls the house on the Cape and is invited for a brief stay. But all is not well with Jimmy -- in fact, he's alarmingly disturbed. As he and his girlfriend get into his car for the trip to the Cape, Jimmy inexplicably attacks her, bludgeoning her to death with his fists. Once in the environs of the Cape house, Jimmy dumps her body in an ocean bay along with her suitcase, which he weighs down with the car jack.
After an awkward welcome to the house and an introduction by brother Lucian, Jimmy is pretty much left alone with Gypsy while the composer works at his piano, struggling to birth new musical ideas, an effort that results in more frustration and anger than creativity and sharpens his tendency toward arrogance and sarcasm. Gypsy accepts Jimmy at face value and, in the course of beach walking and conversation, grows to feel sisterly affection toward him.
When a woman's body is discovered washed up on a beach with few clues as to its origin, retired Boston detective Dumbarton (Dick Batalyan) decides to take on an investigation of his own. He starts with a meeting about the case with his son Billy (Michael DeLuise), a working police officer. Despite his son's misgivings about letting his dad loose on the case, Dumbarton comes up with a clue ignored by the forensic team in the apartment of the deceased. This lead will take him step-by-step to the Cape and to the mortal danger Jimmy poses to Gypsy.
Meanwhile, the brothers reveal some of their disturbing family history in which both parents died under strange circumstances after Jimmy, as a teenager, learned that Lucian had a different father and blamed his mother for lying to him. Jimmy dates a local woman and then concludes it by drowning her in the ocean. Gypsy meets a mysterious beachcomber and, in a series of intercut monologues, confides her history and thoughts to this man whose appearances and disappearances suggest a phantom spirit. The scenario builds to a boiling point (after a dinner of boiled lobster) when, in trying to calm Jimmy down, Gypsy reassures him that he's loved, by his brother and by her, words that are like pouring gasoline on smoldering embers.
Film grain, underlighting, the kind of limited color spectrum indicative of outdated film or compromised lab development, and occasional awkward editing all point out that, for his first film, director Wilkinson was working with a tight budget. And while some plot points stretch credulity to the breaking point, such as when detective Dumbarton happens to find the weighted down suitcase in shallow water off the beach, there is enough, in the story, its characters, and the performances, to earn him an A for effort along with the festival recognition he got.
Annunziata Gianzero, while not the violinist purported by her role, is a screen presence worth watching for in future assignments. Thomas Jay Ryan as the serial killer is convincingly disturbed, while Dick Bakalyan seems to be an actor who won't let a screen moment go understated. Perhaps the biggest problem is in the failure to convince us that these supposed music talents have any, but in so underbudgeted an enterprise, it's a slight that can be forgiven considering that such a complex tale was kept essentially on track.
Your tin roof... rusted.
Run time: 102 mins
Distributed by: Artistic License
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Mark Wilkinson
Producer: Mark Wilkinson
Screenwriter: Mark Wilkinson