Directed by Noah Buschel and starring a star in the making Corey Stoll, Glass Chin is unsettling, minimalist, fascinating and difficult to decipher.
The story focuses on the character Bud, played by Stoll, who when at the top of his game in boxing, had it all: both the physical commodities that come with fame as well as the admiration. However after a single hit he was out for the count and brought back down to living a life devoid of glamour, fans or purpose. He has plans to help train an up and comer, is steady if a little bored with his girlfriend and is feeling the irksome weight of now being “ordinary”. His wounded ego and lack of direction leaves him an easy target for JJ (Billy Crudup) a corrupt man who needs him for a bigger set. Murder, threats and the idea of choosing what feels good and what feels right is the center of the films approach.
Glass Chin, while on the outset a distinct work of art just for the visuals alone, is firstly hard to swallow. It isn’t a cut and dry story; it doesn’t offer answers easily or cater to fools. While that is a trend that can become tiresome in the independent film world it works in Buschel’s film due to how comfortable he feels behind the camera. It’s hugely visual, dependent on colors and atmospheric tones to distinguish between Bud’s mindsets. An early scene has Bud and his girlfriend at their cozy and colorful apartment, albeit small in space. This transitions later into a fancy, slick bar that’s bathed in silver, allowing the viewers to view this world Bud has entered with JJ through the same eyes: we see what he sees, a hyper stylistic, glamorous lifestyle that he wants to obtain.
The visuals often help overcome the stilted dialogue that’s written. Playing the writer and director Buschel seems more comfortable telling the story by means of the camera lens than by the written world. This, for all intent in purposes, is fine when it comes to a film that enjoys as much silence as this one does. There are moments of insight with the dialogue, moments where they click and seem authentic as well as poignant but others where you can see the script in hand.
Stoll proves once again that he’s an actor worth keeping an eye out for. He, more than anyone else in the film, manages to effortlessly capture the silent in nature tone of the film. He’s a hulking, strong looking man who has a glass chin in more ways than just purely physical. He’s been built on the esteem of his peers and when it’s all been taken after taking a strong hit to a weak chin, he’s easy to shatter. He’s needy, he’s insecure and Stoll portrays all of this all the while keeping us rooting for the character. He may not me the most well-intentioned and he may be selfish, but Bud isn’t a character worth giving up on.
There’s a lot of good going on in Glass Chin. It won’t be for everyone-and what film is-but it’s one that isn’t often seen. It evolves more like a play than your standard film and it’s not particularly accessible but it’s certainly something to be curious about. Whether you’re curious about what the director plans on doing next or if Stoll will keep on being cast as leads if he’s always this good, it’s a film to keep an eye out for. It’s a little unnerving, filled with some tension, and it jumps of the screen.