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Whelm is a gangster movie that has shades of an American Western. The story is set during the Great Depression and follows two brothers. The pair get caught up in the rivalry between a legendary bank robber and a young criminal. The strange events that follow place them in the cross hairs of history. The film comes under heavy scrutiny almost by default. The plot heavily involves one of the most infamous gangsters of all time. That alone will make Whelm interesting to a lot of audiences. Whether it is a complete reimagining or is true to history, it takes on an added layer of intrigue.
Those who are expecting a fast paced gangster movie filled with guns and mayhem will be disappointed. The film is as much of a Western as it is a movie about gangsters. The story moves at a methodical pace that rewards patience. There is action to be found, but the best parts of the film take time to develop. As good as the writing is, there are some issues with the plot. The non-linear story is interesting at first, but becomes unnecessarily convoluted by the end. This is especially noticeable since Whelm is asking viewers to pay such close attention. It does not ruin the movie, but it is frustrating.
The cinematography may be the true stand out of Whelm. The movie has an authentic look that adds to the atmosphere. There is an attention to detail that will draw audiences in. The camera also makes sure to take it all in. There are shots of the Midwestern landscape that are stunning. It is always nice to see an creative blending of genres. The American Western and gangster movie are closer than would be expected as Whelm expertly shows. The story’s structure is flawed, but the premise is a captivating one audiences should enjoy.
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