Former solider Sherman Oliver drops in on an acquaintance, Franklin Page, who saved his life in combat years earlier. At first, Page welcomes Oliver into his home, but things turn ugly when the disturbed veteran lashes out at Page's wife. Director Ryan Redford makes his feature-film debut with this psychological drama based on a short story by Rachel Ingalls.
Sherman Oliver (Garret Dillahunt) is a war veteran, surviving a brutal hit to his skull which is evident in a nasty scar on his head. After years of service, he has become a civilian and one day, he turns up at the home of the fellow soldier who saved his life. Husband-and-wife Franklin (Donal Logue) and Irene (Molly Parker) Page welcome Sherman into their home, living with them and their two children. There was no reason not to let Sherman into their lives.
Soon enough, the Pages realize that Sherman could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and the dilemma: Should Sherman stay or should Sherman totally go? ‘Oliver Sherman’ is the debut feature film of writer-director Ryan Redford, an examination on how war affects the lives of its soldiers after they have been discharged and have gone home.
‘Oliver Sherman’ proves to be a quiet film with an apolitical message that yells from start to finish. We don’t know from which war Sherman and Franklin served in, we are not told of their experiences during that time, but the aftermath of violence is palpable and tense. An independent film without much use for original score let alone familiar music, ‘Oliver Sherman’ wishes its slow pace to accelerate into an all-consuming denouement, leaving you unsettled and thinking.
So many details are withheld from its audience: character back stories, the time and setting of the piece, the motivation and issues that push its leads to do what they do. As Sherman, Garrett Dillahunt has the stoic stance of a man ravaged by violence; you’re told he’s good but he’s changed somehow, and whether for the worse, it may be possible.
As Franklin, Donal Logue exemplifies the other side of the coin: a man who has moved on; war is not part of his present for he is a man who has overcome. There are many films about war, of soldiers in battle, but too few about their lives right after, where they are to pick up the pieces and rebuild their stunted lives – that’s where ‘Oliver Sherman’ comes in.