While soap fans may know Brandon Barash as former sexy mob prince Johnny Zacchara on the ABC soap "General Hospital" or as an accomplished singer in the band "Port Chuck," they'll get a glimpse of him in a way they've never seen him before - that of a 1950's-era husband and father - in the short film "The Mourning Hour."
The film was recently screened for several hundred friends, family and press at Los Angeles' renowned Grauman's Egyptian theater with overwhelmingly high praise expressed at the screening reception.
Co-writer, producer and actress Shevaun Kastl told Riverside Soaps on Mon., Oct. 7 how pleased she was with the final cut. "I am so incredibly proud of this film," beamed Kastl. "It's been a long, hard road, but it's been such a labor of love, and I think it showed in that screening."
The labor of love truly did show with breathtaking cinematography, incredible attention to detail for a film set in the 1950's and stellar performances by all involved. The film seamlessly and beautifully leads the viewer on a journey back and forth in time, which is where the real triumph of "The Mourning Hour" lies. The film manages to do in 16 minutes what 90-minute features often fail at; fully realizing a story of life, love, sacrificing dreams and how one tragic event can force us to really examine whether we can live with the choices we have made in life.
"The Mourning Hour," set in the 1950's, tells the story of Virginia Bakely, played by Kastl, a former concert cellist who gave up her dreams of a musical career to become a suburban housewife and mother. In the wake of news that her less-than-faithful husband Carl (Brandon Barash) has been tragically killed in a train accident, Virginia unwittingly embarks on an emotional and psychological journey of reawakening. As she struggles to reconcile predictable feelings of loss with new-found independence and a resurrection of long-forgotten dreams, Virginia finds herself at a crossroads where she alone must answer the question; “what sustains the human heart?”
Riverside Soaps spoke to Shevaun over a year ago about the making of "The Mourning Hour" and the personal way in which the story touched her. "I see so much of my mother in the lead character of Virginia," shared Kastl. "She was a talented, bright, radiant woman with a limitless future ahead of her on the stage. But when she married my father, she put those dreams on hold. Then my father became ill, and she never was able to return to the theater. This film is my dedication to her."
Since that interview, Kastl lost her father quite suddenly, and she spoke at the screening of how that loss gave her an entirely new perspective on Virginia's story. Having never experienced personal grief until her father's passing, she was proud that the feelings she wrote for Virginia were so spot-on to her own emotional experience.
As soap fans will well remember from "General Hospital," Brandon Barash has no trouble when it comes to conveying a charming personality on screen, even if his character's motives are less than pure. That skill is put to good use in the character of Carl as he manages to convince the beautiful Virginia that she'll still be able to pursue her musical dreams even if they get married and start a family. Virginia finds out soon enough that actions speak louder than words, and not only are her career aspirations quickly falling away, but she has made those sacrifices for a man who is less than faithful.
Barash spoke to Riverside Soaps after the screening, alongside his adorable and now noticeably-pregnant wife and former 'General Hospital" co-star Kirsten Storms (Maxie). When asked about his role as Carl, Barash laughed, "I seem to always get cast as the son of a bitch." He did acknowledge, however, that playing those roles is something he enjoys. "It's a lot more fun to be the bad guy. Carl really doesn't set out to be the bad guy, though. He just lives his life for happiness in the moment without a lot of thought to the consequences."
The film also stars Robert Knepper ("Heroes," "Prison Break"), who joked next to Barash that he is usually "the one playing the son of a bitch." In "The Mourning Hour," however, he delivers a soul-touching performance as Carl's brother, Stan, who has the unnerving task of breaking the news of Carl's death to Virginia. Without ever revealing it in a word of dialogue, Knepper manages to beautifully convey Stan's long-held torch for Virginia while still supporting her in her time of grief.
When asked when fans might be able to catch "The Mourning Hour" in their area, Kastl says there is another screening on Oct. 25 at the AI Ringling Theater in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where several scenes of the film were shot. The screening is open to the public, so if you're in or close to the area, it would certainly be well worth the drive to check it out.
Beyond that, Kastl says the film is being submitted to festivals, so hopefully, it will be screening in several places around the country soon. "Once the festival run is over, we'll look into distribution and private sales," says Kastl. "Of course we want to share this gem of a film with everyone!"
For more photos and info, check out the "The Mourning Hour" official web site.
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