IN MacMillan Film's LANDMARK THRILLER
Duration - 94
One of the most exciting presentations at the New York International Film and Video Festival at Madison Square Garden was the new feature "Helene" produced by MacMillan Films, the company known for its commitment to highly original, innovative programming with a cultural or historical slant. This year with the release of "Helene" the filmmakers are breaking new ground with a modern spy thriller, which is quickly gaining audience acclaim.
"Helene" is brought to life by a brilliant ensemble cast. Starring Jody Kelly and Trent Dawson," the film is what Festival Director Jessica Beshir calls "one of the best features we're premiering this year." Trent Dawson, plays Victor, a non-suspecting ex-boyfriend you is soon embroiled in abduction and art theft schemes.
The compelling story follows a young French woman who comes to New York in search of her sister Helene, who disappeared under very strange circumstances. The investigation that Janette undertakes unravels deepening mysteries, which lead to the truth behind her father's death. Can Janette alter a destiny that hangs over her with the certainty of an ancient myth?
Festival Director Beshir explains, "We're extremely excited about Helene. It's a great story, unusually constructed and with a great ending. It's an ambitious project, exactly the kind of work we try to showcase at our festival."
REVIEWS OF FEATURE FILM HELENE
Helene is an overwhelming triumph on many levels. It combines classic Hitchcock-like story telling with subtle innuendo to create a well-crafted, cleverly perpetuated film. The stunning Jodi Kelly deserves notice as Helene, who mysteriously disappears after uncovering a secret United Nations file. She possesses that rare combination of porcelain beauty with magnetic charm, and an innocence that is unavoidably enticing.
Darron Robertson, Sydney Observer
Helene is a cleverly masterminded thriller, with an ancient myth, deception, and destiny as the backdrop, interwoven to create a blanket of mystery and intrigue. Director and producer James Thomas deserves commendation for tenacity and integrity, demonstrating enormous promise as a filmmaker of the new millennium.
I watched a cassette copy of "Helene" last week, and was impressed by the quality of the filmmaking and the acting in this complex thriller about the disappearance of the title character, a French woman (played by Jodi Kelly) working at the United Nations.
The mix of traditional thriller elements with media satire reminded me of some of the early Brian DePalma pictures, such as "Sisters" and "Greetings."
Helene's sister, Janette (Isabelle Duvernoise), enlists the aid of a Manhattan TV production facility in her search for Helene, and we get to see some very amusing glimpses of a "shocking video" show, "The Mating Game".
Janette convinces a nice young girl, Sarah (Susanna Halbreth), to help her find Helene, and the TV journalist sees a possible scoop in the U.N. story. Soon, Sarah is using her "Mating Game" surveillance skills to help Janette tail possible suspects in her sister's disappearance. The producer also lets the visiting Frenchwoman stay in her apartment. Janette finds herself drawn to Sarah's ex, Victor (Trent Dawson), who joins in the amateur sleuthing. The three leads are very appealing, and director Thomas fills the story out with some amusingly quirky and sinister supporting characters (including a clown-faced street performer who could be an assassin.
Cinematographer Krikor Haladjian lights the interiors and exteriors with equal flair, and he and Thomas have chosen their New York locations well.
Joe Meyers, Movie
"Helene" blends the high and the low: The 94-minute suspense thriller combines a contemporary spy story with elements of Greek myth. Shot in cinema verité style, it tells the story of a French woman, Helene - think Helen of Troy - who vanishes after she takes a secret file from the United Nations. Her sister Janette comes to the United States expecting a funeral, only to discover that all is not as it seems. So she recruits a team of investigators from a television dating show and proceeds to unearth a complex plot involving Algerian nationalists, an international art smuggling ring.
"I guarantee you, at any point you're watching this you won't be able to guess what the next scene is," Thomas says. "The challenge was to have these different narratives all working together, all addressing the themes of theft and abduction."