In Scalene, the third feature from Indiana native Zack Parker, suburban intrigue is broken into a puzzle whose pieces refuse a perfect fit. Parker plays with structure, style, and perspective to tell the story of how Janice (Justified star Margo Martindale) came to show up with a loaded gun at the door of Paige (Hanna Hall), the young woman she hired to care for her brain-damaged son, Jakob (Adam Scarimbolo). We begin there and move back in time to the settlement of Paige's rape charge against Jakob, then back a little further to Janice glowing red as a rotisserie chicken when her new boyfriend dumps her over the phone. Although it becomes clear that these scenes encompass Janice's self-sympathetic perspective, Parker adds touches like that flash of impressionistic lighting and Janice's constant shushing of her son—who never speaks—to suggest another side to the story. After a brief interlude behind Jakob's wandering eyes, Paige takes over, and new angles are revealed. Although Scalene slows to a drip in places, strong performances and a Hitchcock-trained eye build unnerving tension into its depiction of the intimate stress of caring for an invalid and the ways people might or might not crack under it.
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