The Lonely Witness

William Boyle's The Lonely Witness is a knockout combination of in-depth character work, Brooklyn atmosphere and straight-up gritty noir. The devotion Boyle (Gravesend) demonstrates for character, story and place is perhaps the one unadulterated emotion on display in a story imbued with ambiguous morality and loyalty.

When Amy Falconetti's girlfriend Alessandra leaves her to pursue a career in Hollywood, she rebounds by quitting her bar job, ditching her semi-goth style, moving into a basement apartment and returning to church. Wanting to be of service, Amy volunteers as a Eucharistic minister, providing communion to house-bound parishioners. When elderly Mrs. Epifanio expresses concern that her caregiver's son Victor has been coming in her stead and shutting himself in Mrs. E's bedroom, Amy takes it upon herself to investigate.

Surreptitiously trailing Victor stirs up Amy's childhood recollections of repeatedly following a neighbor she witnessed committing an act of violence. Tracking Victor provides a sense of control over her present turmoil and traumatic memories, but Amy is soon caught up in a risky game she can't, and might not want to, escape.

Boyle beautifully uses the first half of the narrative to set the stage for a volatile, fast-moving back end. The potential cost of Amy continuing her behavior is ramped up by the sudden return of Alessandra and the appearance of Amy's long-thought-dead father, who is willing to do anything to earn her favor. The Lonely Witness is a fabulous character piece wrapped in layers of intrigue and subterfuge. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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