Every day someone ends up in prison, jailed for the rest of their life or for a certain amount of time. But what do we know about every convicted inmate? What was their story, whether it was disturbing or not? Valerie, the main protagonist never said if she was guilty or innocent. Her only excuse was – she was completely drunk with no backup story when she ran over her friend and neighbor.
“Cardinals”, written by Grayson Moore and co-directed by Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley, follows Valeri Walker (Sheila McCarthy) who is just recently released from prison on parole. As she tries to celebrate the fact she has been released and finally can breathe fresh air out of prison, she quickly realizes that’s not going to be so easy as the past she wanted leave behind has a whole different plan for her.
When the film begins, Valerie just leaves the correctional facility and is greeted by her two daughters Eleanor (Katie Boland) and Zoe (Grace Glowicki). We don’t know much till then but thanks to Mark Loekner’s (Noah Reid) appearance, we get more anxious to learn more, which is quite exciting. But exciting is not quite the right term to use in the environment when both their eyes meet. The thing is, Mark is the deceased’s son whose life was broken after the death of his dear father killed in an apparent drunk driving accident by Valerie.
While Valerie allows herself to remain calm and cool and ensures to answer to all the questions Mark has, one thing we learn is that Mark’s father was a friend to the Walker family and that Valerie herself appeared to not have drinking problems. And even if that is true, the tension between the two arise to the level where Mark is determined to have his questions answered. But there’s a problem – Valerie hides a sinister and dark secret for Mark’s sake. And if Valerie still agrees with Mark’s insane theory, that can send her back to the prison, but this time for murder. But all this is just a game we as viewers will be left alone with in “Cardinals” to witness with no ability to intervene, but to be the judge to both characters and their entire family drama.
“Cardinals” is a slow-paced psychological thriller that you will start liking only towards the end, which is not a bad thing. The intention directors had not thought to have, I guess, is an appealing look to attract the viewer’s attention for them to love or hate it. The pure goal was, of course, to tell the story while our role is to act like a bystander – see crime and do nothing. Hear the truth – pretend you heard nothing. Just having that kind of concept was interesting enough for me to have a positive feeling about “Cardinals” which I did not have in the beginning.
In conclusion, the film is made for the viewers who like character study. It has a bit of drama, crime, fear, dilemma, the freedom that can slip away and the mind that can literally go nuts. But it’s also about the price Valerie must pay by deciding how much she can tell about the night that took Mark’s father’s life and her reasons for hiding the truth. And it all depends on how strong Mark is to handle the entire situation. But as you will watch him, you will realize he is way too weak to come to terms with reality, which is shameful and understandable at the same time.