Caught: Robert Young Directs Noir Melodrama With Edward James Olmos

Sundance Film Festival (World Premiere)–Caught, Robert Young’s adaptation of Edward Pomerantz’s novel, Into It, is a variation on the story of The Postman Always Rings Twice.

However, setting it in Jersey City in a Hispanic working-class locale, and adding overtly Oedipal elements distinguish it from the previous versions. Young had been wanting to make this film, which technically represents his most accomplished work, for 20 years.

Nick (Arie Verveen), a mysterious drifter, is taken in by Joe (Edward James Olmos) and Betty (Maria Conchita Alonso), who run a fish store. They give him a job and offered him the room that formerly belonged to their son, Danny (Steven Schub), who’s in Hollywood trying for a showbiz career. Nick becomes the son Joe always wanted, but soon the handsome Nick sleeps with Betty. When Danny unexpectedly arrives with his wife and child, things rapidly unravel. Spoiled and spiteful, Danny sees Nick as usurper, and suspects him of perfidy.

The film’s first part is slow and not particularly engaging, but with Danny’s arrival, the story gets an injection of energy and comes to life. Nick is too inexpressive to hold interest, but Danny is so vicious that he provokes loathing and contempt. With an efficient and taut direction, “Caught” heads for its predictable tragic ending.

In his introduction of the movie, at its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, vet indie director Young said that the only way to keep total control over the film was to finance it independently. With access to state-of-the-art postproduction, Young shot in super 16mm and then blew up to 35mm. The lighter equipment provided flexibility–the camera moves freely among the actors, allowing them more space to express their feelings.