“Crown and Anchor,” co-written by and starring “Arrow” actor Michael Rowe, is billing itself as a “punk rock drama.” Shot on location in St. John’s Newfoundland, the crime drama embodies punk’s DIY ethic but don’t expect thrash and trash.
To stretch the musical analogy one step further, this well measured movie has more to do with the introspective stripped-down sounds of a band like Television than the loud ‘n fast rush of The Ramones. In other words, it’s like punk with guitar solos.
Rowe plays police officer James Downey, a disciplined man who fled Newfoundland years before to get away from his abusive alcoholic father Gus (Stephen McHattie). Returning for his mother’s funeral he must confront the past he left behind. Gus is safely tucked away behind bars but cousin Danny (Matt Wells) is loose, desperate for money and wallowing in booze and drugs. He’s also involved with some very bad people. Thrown back into the kind of family drama that forced him to leave the island years before, Downey stays put confront the past and present.
Don’t expect a tourism board approved view of Newfoundland and Labrador. “Crown and Anchor” is all about the dark corners. The echoes of the grief, tragedy and violence of James and Danny’s lives reverberate throughout. Director Andrew Rowe is unflinching and uncompromising in his presentation of the underbelly of St. John’s life.
Shot in long takes, often in uninterrupted close ups, “Crown and Anchor” showcases its strong performances. The leads, along with Natalie Brown as Danny’s wife Jessica and Robert Joy, bring authenticity to roles that could have veered into caricature.
“Crown and Anchor” is a slow burn. It takes its time getting where it is going, building tension with long scenes. Rowe gives his scenes room, allowing them to marinade. It’s old school indie, but in our era of frenetic editing it feels fresh and new.