The feature film debut by Long Island based filmmaker Matt Morillo is in many ways reminiscent of the first film by another Long Island filmmaker - Edward Burns' "Brothers McMullen". It is a simple story of family and finding one's place in the world that is given added life by some strong performances and an excellent, intelligent screenplay. By avoiding the pitfalls that have made recent independent film so boring (such as forced, nonsensical dialogue) Marillo has crafted a film that far outshines its low budget origins – a character study of friendships and family and how expectations can dictate the path of a persons life.
The performances by Jonathan Sale and Beth Lynn Kelly as the siblings at the center of the story are exceptional and the film avoids the heavy handedness that weighs down so many first films on the merit of a touching and often quite humorous script and believable characters. "The Pretenders" establishes Morillo as a filmmaker to watch and is evidence of an oft-overlooked truth about filmmaking – quite often, less is indeed more.
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