Review: Everyday trouble comes to a head in thriller ‘Tilt’

Joseph Cross in the movie “Tilt.”
(Alexander Alexandrov / The Orchard)

A fresh spin on the suspense film, writer-director Kasra Farahani’s “Tilt” is more concerned with everyday anxiety than anything extreme. Rather than literal ticking time bombs, the movie focuses on small pressures that build into big ones: unwanted family obligations, awkward social interactions and a stifling daily routine.

Joseph Cross stars as Joe Burns, a moderately successful, L.A.-based documentary filmmaker. Joe’s having trouble focusing on his latest project — a visual essay about mid-20th century cultural propaganda — because his wife, Joanne (Alexia Rasmussen), is about to have their first child and Donald Trump’s rise to power is freaking him out. Meanwhile, he keeps slipping into a disturbing fugue state during his long evening walks and forgetting what he may or may not have done.

Farahani and co-writer Jason O’Leary suggest throughout that Joe’s about to snap and become violent toward the tourists, criminals and weirdos he encounters while ambling through the city. From moment to moment, “Tilt” captures how a tedious dinner party or a botched job interview can drive anyone mad.

Some viewers may find Joe’s stressors too negligible; and honestly, “Tilt” is too shapeless and esoteric to be great. It flags considerably after its first hour, stumbling toward a frustrating ending.


Still, there’s a frankness to this picture that compensates for the overall slightness. It’s the rare thriller that looks to combine “Five Easy Pieces” and “Taxi Driver.”



Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Playing: AMC Sunset 5, West Hollywood; also on VOD

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