Tanner Smith’s Verdict: Foot Soldier

November 22, 2012

For the record, my review.

Foot Soldier Trailer from Jon Bryant Crawford on Vimeo.

By Tanner Smith

Oh boy… how am I going to talk my way through this one? To tell the honest truth, it’s hard for me to explain why this unusual short film “Foot Soldier” works. It just sort of does. It’s weird with its odd little touches that move the story along, but it’s also exceedingly original and very well-executed.

Foot Soldier” is a Southern Gothic tale with cinematography that captures the essence of the backwoods of the South. It’s desolate, yet comforting and wistful. Making his way through a small town with that sense is a door-to-door Bible salesman named Emmitt (Dustin Alford, giving an excellent performance with a convincing blend of innocence, gullibility, and sorrow). Emmitt is apparently homeless, as he wakes up in an abandoned house and has very little money in his pocket. He lives by his belief in God and by his door-to-door sales.

Oh, and he also has this habit of stuffing the inside of his shoes with pebbles and gravel, so that he’ll endure the pain to continue with his faith, while attempting to continue his sales. But it’s after an uncomfortable encounter with a sleep-around (Natalie Canerday) that Emmitt starts to lose his faith and see things in a new, twisted way. But his next attempt at challenging his own faith leads to a new view on life.

I don’t want to give too much away, except that after that encounter, Foot Soldier features Emmitt as he makes a ill-advised choice and then finds himself in the company of…well, about the one who delivers helpful advice, you will either accept, laugh at, or (possibly) be offended. In fact, the entire second half of “Foot Soldier” had me questioning why it worked as well as it did, considering the choices being made. But I am praising it for its originality and its sense of humanity. When “Foot Soldier” was over, I found myself wishing to see more of this protagonist’s journey, and oddly enough, I found myself enjoying the little things in life a little more.

Smith’s Verdict: ★★★★


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