So, that being said, to properly critique a short film, you must understand its intention (similarly, see our “Eyes Beyond” review). Sometimes, a director's intention is brilliantly clear, and sometimes it struggles in its focus. Canadian director Adam Macdonald's vision is apparent from the opening scene (which runs just over half of the film's total run time), in which a man, Alan, in search of his missing brother confronts a crime boss, whom his brother had been working for before his disappearance. That, in essence, is the film's story. The film follows a very linear path, as is developed around the answers to Alan's questions, which begin to suggest that his brother may not have been the man Alan had thought.
John Boylan portrays the crime boss with an understated brilliance. He remains impenetrably calm while revealing the details of Alan's brothers lifestyle, and his dialogue is spoken with a chilling restraint. It's an incredible performance, and one that essentially makes the film.
Now, I don't mean that as a slight toward the film; it's not. The film is built on dialogue and character, not so much plot. The film follows a simple, but unexpected plot progression from beginning to end and relies on the characters of Alan and Carl (the crime boss) to involve us in the story. They are essentially the only characters in the film, and as such the weight of the film must be carried on their shoulders. This is why John Boylan's performance is so important, as it does “make the film”. Jeff Roop is also very good as Alan, but his performance isn't quite as impressive as Boylan's.
The masterwork here, however, is Adam Macdonald's dialogue, which breathes life into both characters in a believable and often times frightening way. As mentioned the film's opening sequence runs nearly half of the film, and is a strictly dialogue driven scene. It is completely impressive, and serves as an interesting contrast to the film's not so restrained climax and shocking final reveal.
Combining all of these aspects into one film really serves to show the talent of writer/director Adam Macdonald, as he's developed a technically sound film that involves the audience through character, not plot, and builds tension through dialogue, not action. It's a different film to be sure, but one that serves to highlight some of my favorite aspects of independent film. “In the Dominican” is a fantastic short, and is an excellent example of how a filmmaker can craft a truly unique, unesettling or even entertaining film, with such a short running time.