Not content to be a Shakespearean tragedy in tone only, the violent crime drama "Phantom Halo" has its contemporary characters quoting the Bard 24/7 — just one way this film keeps reaching for cleverness but comes up with a fistful of clichés.
The feature directorial debut of Antonia Bogdanovich has a forced theatricality surrounding siblings Samuel and Beckett (yep) Emerson, played, respectively, by Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Luke Kleintank as a pair of petty criminals. They must scrounge up enough money to repay the escalating gambling debts of their abusive, perpetually drunken dad (Sebastian Roche).
One of their favorite scams involves Samuel performing soliloquies for an appreciative crowd on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade while big bro Beckett picks their pockets.
There's something workable there, but Bogdanovich (daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, who serves as executive producer here) and co-writer Anne Heffron are so preoccupied penning piffle like, "You're just a petty thief slipping your hand into the pocket of the world," they lose sight of the bigger picture.
Although the performances, including that of Rebecca Romijn channeling Cybill Shepherd as a femme fatale type, are sturdy, their characters have been given absolutely nowhere interesting to go. Shakespeare would have been the first to point out, the play's the thing.
MPAA rating: R for violence, language, brief sexuality
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8