Bullet On A Wire – Review

Bullet On A Wire

with Jeff Strong, Lara Phillips, David Yow, Paula Killen
Directed by Jim Sikora
Written by Joe Carducci, Jim Sikora
by Michael McCarthy

Everyone jokes about sending their ex a letter stating that her (or his) HIV status is positive. Well, maybe not everyone, but we’ve all heard stories about some bastard (or bitch) pulling such a prank. In Jim Sikora’s Bullet on a Wire, this prank makes its long overdue debut in a motion picture… and the results are deadly, as should be expected, considering that Sikora co-wrote the script with Joe Carducci, author of Rock & the Pop Narcotic.

Once upon a time, Raymond Brody (Jeff Strong) was religious and probably even kind, but being an insurance telemarketer has left him feeling bitter and inadequate. Angry with God about his place in life, perhaps. As the film opens, he spies a woman he fancies in a bar and we get the feeling he could be happy in life if only he had such a woman. He wants to talk to her, but heads for the bathroom to put drops in his eyes instead. When he returns, she’s gone and he’s distraught. This brings him to the hospital where his sister (Paula Killen) works. She’s just been speaking with a young woman named Tanya Strickland (Lara Phillips), who is probably pregnant. The conversation has left her exhausted and she isn’t nearly as friendly to her brother as she probably would’ve been otherwise. When she steps away from her desk, he angrily grabs a memo with Tanya’s information on it. He later calls the number and informs her mother that Tanya is pregnant… and HIV positive (the latter being a lie). When Tanya’s father flips over this, she ends up killing him, landing herself in prison, and her loser of a boyfriend (amusingly portrayed by The Jesus Lizard’s vocalist David Yow) on a media field day. Meanwhile, Raymond is overcome with guilt when he learns what his phone call did, and he goes to meet Tanya in prison.

Filmed in black and white, which nicely enhances the dreariness of the world where Raymond and Tanya live, Bullet on a Wire is often hilarious, containing some of the best black comedy I’ve seen in years. One can’t help but laugh aloud as Raymond tells Tanya’s mother of her daughter’s HIV status, as loathsome as such a joke is. Later, the film becomes far less comic and more moving as Raymond realizes he and Tanya are right for each other, yet have met in an unfortunate way that will probably keep them from ever being together. Strong and Phillips deliver convincing performances, especially in regards to their character’s desperation. Strong also conveys his character’s longing for redemption rather effectively. One of the best low-budget indie flicks I’ve seen in a long time, and a hell of a lot better than most of the shit Hollywood has shoved down our throats in the past few years.
(2151/2 S. 1st St. Laramie, WY 82070)