Appropriately titled, The Retrieval follows the journey of two slaves Will (Ashton Saunders) and Marcus (Keston John) used by their master to trap and capture fugitive or runaway slaves. Their newest job involves them tracking down Nate (Tishaun Scott) a free black man and luring him back to the south. Written & Directed by Chris Eska The Retrieval highlights how the oppressed can often become oppressors to their own for individual gain. Although Marcus’ indifference to their situation exudes hatred, Will has no animosity towards the slaves he betrays in order to secure their capture. However, they are both motivated by the money and promise of freedom their continued compliance grants. When they meet Nate, a strong freedman who has the sense of identity and community that makes Marcus skeptical and uncomfortable but Will curious enough to bond with him.
While the compelling plot is enough to make any film buff check it out the incredible cast and crew behind the film is what makes this indie feel like a larger budget. Yasu Tanida, a Japanese DP (Director of Photography aka Cinematographer) who has recently been making a name for his work on NBC’s This is Us creates beautiful wide shots taking full advantage of his exteriors to paint the landscape of the South. Ashton Saunders (one of the three young men who played lead character Chiron in Moonlight) gives viewers a strong performance proving why he is being labeled as a future star in Hollywood. Tishaun Scott and Keston John do not disappoint and surely have earned themselves future roles for their nuanced performances showing audiences the effect of slavery on adult aged black men. This is a film worthy of praise largely for the conversation it will create but it should be equally recognized for the collection of rising stars in today’s film industry.