Ever since watching the delightfully twisted "The Man Who Collected Food", I have been dying to know what writer/director Matthew Roth's next project would be. Fortunately, the wait is over as his new film "Five Piece" (which had a screening at Erie's Spirit Quest Film Festival last month) is here and it is a very different, though no less intriguing take on an obsessed individual.

Taking place over the course of 24 hours, the film follows the five members of a metal band as they prepare for a Battle of the Bands competition. With a $1 million payout and a recording contract as prizes, this competition could change the lives of these struggling individuals. Unfortunately, their drummer Brandon (Robert Paul Taylor), who's already ruined things with previous bands he's been a part of, becomes increasingly erratic and violent as the competition draws closer. Unbeknownst to them, Brandon actually suffers from dissociative identity disorder (the result of years of physical and emotional abuse) and has four other distinct personalities living in his head that tend to show themselves at the worst possible times.

The film succeeds thanks primarily to the performance of its lead actor. Taylor does an excellent job playing the tortured Brandon. Much like James McAvoy in "Split", his most subtle of mannerisms or inflections in his voice are enough to let the audience know when a different personality has entered the scene. It's a wonderful performance but it's elevated thanks to the slick direction and some truly excellent camerawork. The film manages to pull off some really impressive extended takes that take us through multiple rooms or (in one amazing shot) from a street corner into a car and then driven for several blocks all in one unbroken shot. It's quite a feat, but it's also never done simply to show off. The camera movements are never unmotivated and as a result, the long shots always keep the audience within the headspace of the characters. They're a lot of fun to watch and it all culminates with a final shot that I think is downright brilliant.

Without giving anything away, I will say that there are moments when you may not know if what you're seeing is actually happening or merely taking place inside the main character's fractured psyche. The film rarely leaves the perspective of the main character and as a result, some of the other characters' stories tend to get lost in the shuffle. Maya's story, for instance, comes to an end right as it was getting interesting. Aside from that little artistic disagreement though, I would highly recommend checking out Five Piece. Its manages to be a simultaneously invigorating and emotionally draining experience and easily one of the best psychological dramas you're likely to see all year.


★ ★ ★ ★

"With 24 hours until Battle Of The Bands, drummer Brandon finds himself in constant conflict with his fellow bandmates. Unbeknownst to them, he lives with dissociative identity disorder, hosting four other distinct personalities within."