Split Lip is Christopher Sheffield’s sophomore directorial effort about a woman on the lamb from the underworld in a story full of blood, determination and wit. Filmed in Arizona, Split Lip has an amazing cast. Now streaming.
There are plenty of examples where the protagonist of a story is a lost soul. No, the lost soul doesn’t always need to be a part of a vampire or a zombie film, though the mainstream propensity is such today.
No. I’m talking about a genuinely lost soul. Someone who has simply given their entire being to a cause, just or not. Look at Darth Vader. He gave himself over to the Dark Side of the Force, ultimately because he had nothing better to do. He was also corruptible.
In Christopher Sheffield’s film, Split Lip, Set (Doree Seay) is on the lamb following a botched mission. Hunted by her peers, she uses every ounce of blood, determination and wit she has to outrun the bounty on her life.
Sheffield’s story centers on the lunacy of the underworld characters who inhabit his film. Its success though is in using those characters to propel Set into a much stronger character than she otherwise would have been. Ms. Seay has a strong-enough profile that she could have carried herself competently through the action, but this role isn’t strictly action. The tight editing and keeps the film on track.
What separates her approach to the character is the one thing that Darth Vader never had: vulnerability. In the same vein as John Wick and through the haze of the pain and the fury, she kicks ass and takes a name. While she displays remorse for what she’s done in the past, she doesn’t hold back.
Which is why Samuel’s (Chris Labadie) introduction into the film is absolutely and perfectly random.
As Set falls slowly off the grid, the character still needs information, so she shows up at the public library. She attracts the attention of Samuel. A lanky late teenager with a penchant for wanting to be helpful. It’s not as corny as I’m making it out to be – Samuel truly is someone who just wants to help.
In that regard, Samuel is what sets Set apart from other characters of her ilk, and is, ultimately what separates her from her combatants: she’s not a blood-thirsty animal and she understands that, while what needs to be done had to be done, it isn’t who she is.
Much like Luke trying to bring his father back into the Light, Samuel treats Set to dinner and to an transitive dance in the dusky Arizona sky. It’s during dinner that Samuel sums up the film’s message: “I think that’s how things are sometimes. Like, we’re each our own different type of book, but we’re all part of the same story.”
We, all of us, lead independent lives. Some of us will find our path by wanting to genuinely help others. Some of us will be bankers, or CEO’s. Some of us, like Set, will kick ass and take names much, much later. Yet, it’s that commonality between all of us, that humanity that drives us, that we are all a part of a much larger story.
Until we get to that epilogue, move over John Wick because there’s a new badass in town and her name is Set.
Now streaming on major e-tailers, Split Lip has not been rated by the MPAA.