Catching Dust is a potent, uneasy thriller enhanced by an arresting Jai Courtney: Tribeca Film Festival Review

There’s a palpable sense of unrest that litters the core of Catching Dust, Stuart Gatt‘s feature debut that speaks to one woman’s sense of autonomy and choosing between the devil she knows and that she doesn’t.

The woman in question is Geena (Erin Moriarty), whose isolated Texas desert locale is the result of her violent husband, Clyde (Jai Courtney, imposing), and his unpredictable nature that has put him on the run from both authorities and former cohorts that, as we learn, have serious scores to settle.

Gatt makes it more a case to only allude to just what Clyde has done, and it’s his stoic nature that adds to the film’s tension as Geena’s own anxiety rises with every move Clyde makes that robs her of any freedom.  Despite his character’s gruff nature, there’s still a sense of sympathy created towards Clyde, as protecting Geena and creating a life outside of the law is his primary focus – even if his well-intentioned actions mask a volatility that somewhat blinds him to Geena’s own true needs.

Desperate for interaction with the outside world and growing weary of Clyde’s controlling nature, her intention to flee is halted with the arrival of Amaya (Dina Shihabi) and Andy (Ryan Corr), a vacationing couple from New York who are under the impression the abandoned commune Clyde and Geena have sought shelter in is a legitimate business for those wanting to disconnect from technology and reset.

It’s here with their arrival that the film’s tension escalates even further, and though Clyde does his best to scare Amaya and Andy off his “property” – and it initially works on Amaya, who begs Andy to leave with her – the couple are convinced to stay by Geena, with Gatt’s script here planting seeds of doubt on Geena’s character and intentions, knowing what this outside couple could do to provoke Clyde in a number of manners.

Where the film travels from hereon speaks to Gatt’s ease at creating unrest.  The possibilities of character interactions and morals aligning between Clyde, Geena, Amaya and Andy proves endless, despite the limited players, and though Geena’s ultimate intention appears to be to leave by utilising Andy and Amaya’s presence, gradual reveals about the couple’s temperament leaves Geena unsure if she is truly safer outside of Clyde.

A small film in stature, but one that has a larger personality and brims with a confidence and carnage that threatens to overstep the narrative’s constraints, Catching Dust is tragic and hopeless, but consistently potent, made all the more so by an arresting Courtney who continues to prove his worth as a genuine character actor unafraid to play to his masculinity, but doing so without an inch of egoism or vanity.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Catching Dust is screening as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, running between June 7th – 18th, 2021.  For more information head to the official Tribeca page.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.