The Foster Portfolio review

Despite its brief run time, The Foster Portfolio felt more satisfying than many full length films I’ve seen this year. There’s a style, charm and spirit that makes it a winner worthy of seeking out.

The film is based on the original short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In just over 18 minutes, Director Danielle Katvan economically makes use of every minute. There’s not a wasted moment and every scene matters.

Jim Crane (Roe Hartrampf, Power) is a fresh-faced rookie investment counselor just starting out in his career. He hasn’t had time to get jaded or get greedy yet. It’s 1951 so Jim is devoid of snark or a sense of self-entitlement. He’s ready to work and work hard to achieve a better quality of life. For now, it’s washing clothes in the sink and hanging them throughout the bedroom. There’s no family to support yet so he’s free to devote all his time and attention on his job.

Jim isn’t sure what to make of his latest client Herbert Foster (Joel Nagle). Herbert is a simple hardworking man trying to do right by his wife, Alma (Rebecca Watson) and their son. Their home is the definition of modest with garish wallpaper and busy color scheme. But what Alma doesn’t know is Herbert recently received a huge inheritance that could change their lives.

All he has to do is let Jim cash it in and they’d be on Easy Street. But Herbert has a secret from everyone that he’s not willing to give up. Not even for a million dollars.

The Foster Portfolio - Roe Hartrampf

Nagle has the most complex role as Herbert is the one character showing a broad range of emotions. He’s mysterious and resolved to keep his secret. Hartrampf also gives a strong performance. He conveys Jim’s good-nature demeanor and determination with ease.

Katvan slowly builds up the mystery with Jim playing the inquisitive detective while dutifully handling his job. Katvan uses some smart camera choices and perspectives to tell the story and heighten the tension. The set and costume design are both solid. There’s an amazing attention to detail and commitment to the 1950s and tone.

Just as impressive is how Katvan captures the tone of the time period. Ash trays are everywhere, tacky colors bombard every scene and there’s an underlined sense of hope and optimism.

The Foster Portfolio left me thinking about it for far longer than its run time. Maybe my only ‘gripe’ was it was too short. Eighteen minutes in this captivating world Katvan creates wasn’t nearly enough time.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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