The Ticket is an intense, visually innovative, and emotionally rich indie about a visually impaired telemarketer who miraculously regains his sight only to lose his soul in the process.
Downton Abbey alumnus Dan Stevens, who is currently burring up the screen in FX's Legion, turns in a blistering performance in the lead role. He's joined by a terrific supporting cast that includes Malin Akerman (Billions, Watchmen), Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire, Argo), and Oliver Platt (Chicago Med, Fargo).
The Ticket will be released Friday, at AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24. Happily, it will be available on the same day on VOD and at all major streaming outlets from Amazon Video to the Xbox Store.
The Ticket is the sophomore feature from Israeli filmmaker Ido Fluk, who said he came up with the opening sequence when he was editing his first feature, Never Too Late.
"I was working on the film, and the picture didn't work. The screen went black and there was only dialogue, which made it strange. But it also was very riveting," he said.
"So formally, that's where I had the idea of opening a film inside the head of a sight-impaired person."
The narrative came from the Jewish tradition.
"I have always been fascinated by these types of stories about a person getting a gift that becomes a curse. It's the idea of being tested . . . which is really a biblical idea. The Book of Job has that concept," Fluk said.
"So I wanted to use blindness as a way to tell that kind of story. And it's a story we're all familiar with. We've all heard about people who win the lottery or become famous overnight. And within six months, they crash and burn. . . . They lose their spouses, their families, and all their money."
A dark adult fairy tale or fable, Fluk's film raises fundamental ethical questions about the toll that materialism has taken on our ability to love one another.
To bring its message home, Fluk divided the story into three unequal but visually distinct sections.
When Stevens' character "gains his sight, the colors are softer and a little oversaturated to give it an intimate and experiential feel as he becomes used to his new capabilities," Fluk said.
"Eventually, as he gets more used to it, more streamlined and confident, we move to a much cooler palette.
"And finally," Fluk said, "at some point, the camera is kicked over, and everything becomes askew . . . and much, much darker."
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*** (Out of four stars)
yDirected by Ido Fluk. With Dan Stevens, Malin Akerman, Kerry Bishe, Oliver Platt. Distributed by Shout! Factory.
yRunning time: 1 hour, 37 mins.
yParent's guide: Not rated (adult themes).
yPlaying at: AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24.