Chris Eska's The Retrieval takes place in 1864, with the Civil War still ravaging the coutntryside. Will, a fatherless teenage boy, works for a white bounty hunger gang, tracking slaves who have fled from their owners, gaining their trust and luring them back to the south. Will's latest bounty sends him into the north to find Nate, a freed slave, who now works as a gravedigger for the union army. With a bogus story centered around Nate's brother, Will convinces Nate to journey with him back to the South but as they find themselves alone, an unexpected bond between Will and Nate begins to grow. The Retrieval is a powerful character study that captures a time and place while delivering a touching coming-of-age tale. Focusing on a story of Will, a young boy whose grown up in a tough environment, Chris Eska creates a powerful and poignant portrait of selflessness. The film constantly reminds the viewer of the war and violence all around these characters but it never consumes the narrative, being used more as a thematic device to drive the story. Will is a character whose always done what he deemed necessary to survive, but when he meets Nate he begins to realize the power of kindness and selfishness, learning to be a better person than the world around him. The father-son dynamic between these two characters is important yet never overly sentimental, with each character filling a void in the other. Suspenseful, tense, and poignant, Chris Eska's The Retrieval is low-budget film that is a great reminder of the power of impressive storytelling.
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