The idea of a man going through a moral dilemma where his conscience swings like a pendulum for the entire tenure of the film seems promising, but the point of discussion here is whether the Robert Machoian directorial style was gripping enough and whether the screenplay had the desired impact. The concept on paper seems quite intriguing, and it gives the actor the opportunity to really go all out and discover the infinite possibilities of a mind that is in conflict with itself. But somewhere down the line, I personally felt that “The Integrity of Joseph Chamber” could have been much more effective if it had been a short film rather than a full-fledged feature. A lot of times, I felt that the scenes were unnecessarily stretched, and though it worked occasionally, it also backfired a lot of times. I knew I could skip a minute or two ahead and still not lose out on the essence of the communication. I am fully aware that the director would have taken that call so that the motion grows upon us and conveys exactly what a man stuck in such a situation might be feeling.
A similar approach was taken by Shoojit Sircar in his latest venture, “Sardar Udham,” where there were scenes with no dialogue, but the camera stayed with the protagonist and gave him the freedom to improvise so that the intensity of the emotion was felt by the viewers. Though the tactic really worked for Shoojit Sircar, in my personal opinion, it was hit-and-miss for Robert Machoian. Also, I think that the background score didn’t help the cause, and somewhere it didn’t elevate the scenes as much as we would have liked. Clayne Crawford as Joe had the opportunity that probably every actor aspires to, and he gets a free pass to explore his character and go deep inside the psyche of a man who is probably facing the biggest conflict of his life. Clayne Crawford doesn’t miss a beat and displays the nitty-gritty of that convoluted mind with perfection. So let’s try to understand what the film “The Integrity of Joseph Chamber” is all about and if our protagonist chooses the easy path or the right one.
‘The Integrity of Joseph Chamber’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Joe wanted to go hunting alone, and his wife, Tess, told him that it was not a very good idea to do so. They had recently moved to the town, and Joe didn’t have a lot of experience in hunting. Joe used to accompany his friend, Doug, on his hunting trips, but according to Tess, it wasn’t enough, and she thought that he was being really impulsive and irresponsible. Now Joe had a different perspective altogether. He saw a majority of men in the town hunting for their livelihoods, and he felt that he was capable of doing so as well. He said to his wife that he wanted to prepare for the worst of times and that it was imperative that he knew how to sustain his family in case there was an apocalypse. Though Joe might have given her that reason, we believe that his urge to go out there in the wild was because somewhere in his subconscious mind, he wanted validation.
Hunting was associated with masculine pride, and subconsciously Joe felt the need to prove himself in front of the world. Tess told him indirectly not to be pretentious, as it was a fact that he was not a local, and additionally, he had nothing to prove to anyone. She told him that he sold insurance for a living and was pretty good at that, but Joe didn’t listen to her. He took some food and went to Doug’s to borrow whatever tools he needed for hunting. Even Doug wasn’t sure about Joe going hunting alone. Doug told him that if he could wait for a week or so, he could accompany him. But Joe was adamant, and he wasn’t in the mood to listen to anybody that day. Joe was going on Doug’s property to hunt and that is why the latter felt a bit assured as Joe was at least not going into some untapped wild area. Doug told him that there would be no one on his property and that he shouldn’t have any other issues also. Joe finally reached Doug’s property and started searching for probable hotspots where he could find some wild animals.
‘The Integrity of Joseph Chamber’ Ending Explained: What Did Joe Do With The Trespasser?
Joe almost got bored while looking for the signs of any wild animal. He tried to entertain himself, but the entire adventure seemed to be a rather dull affair. He also took a nap in between and then woke up suddenly to realize that he had to make the most of the time he had on the property as he knew that Tess wouldn’t let him come again anytime soon. Suddenly Joe spotted a deer in the distance, and he chased it into the woods. He was stealthily following it when a sudden rustling voice startled him, and as a knee-jerk reaction, he ended up shooting in that direction. He went further ahead to find out if he had killed the deer or not, and after he saw what he had done, he just stood there dumbfounded. Joe had killed a man who was trespassing on Doug’s property, and it seemed like he had been living there. Joe ran away from the scene because he didn’t know what else to do. In the morning, he was telling Doug that he didn’t have a rifle of his own because Tess wouldn’t allow him to have one, and now he had killed a man. He went to his car, and he cursed himself for being so irresponsible and for the unnecessary trouble he had called upon himself. He thought for a long time, and then he decided that he would have to bury the man because nobody knew what had happened. He took a shovel, mustered all the courage he had, then went back once again to dig a grave and bury him properly and discreetly.
A million things were going through his mind during that long walk back, and it seemed like his life flashed before him. He told himself that the man could have been a convict, and so he had actually done a favor to Doug by killing him. He just wanted to validate his actions and tell himself that he had done nothing wrong or immoral. Joe was fooling himself, and he was just too scared to face the truth. He constantly told himself that it was an accident, but it wasn’t enough to clear his guilt-ridden conscience. When he was almost done digging the grave, the presumed-dead man regained consciousness and stood up. Seeing Joe dig a grave, he panicked and started running. Joe ran behind him, shouting frantically that he didn’t want to kill him and that it was all just a misunderstanding. Joe grabbed the trespasser and began profusely apologizing and explaining that it was an accident.
Joe told the trespasser that he was just trying to be self-reliant and be ready for the day when everything went down. The trespasser gave him a piece of his mind and told Joe that he was an amateur who didn’t belong there and had no clue as to what he was doing. In between their conversations, the old man stopped speaking, and Joe realized that this time he had really died. As if bearing the guilt of killing a man once was not enough, Joe had to go through the entire trauma again. He buried the trespasser and went to wash in a nearby lake. Joe started imagining how he would face his family, as he had a habit of going through things in his mind like he was rehearsing before the final show. He tried practicing being normal, but he couldn’t do it. It all became too much to process, and finally, Joe came to the conclusion that he couldn’t just leave the man there, as he was no criminal. He took out the trespasser from the grave and dragged him to his car.
Joe rode directly to the police station, and as it was a small town, the chief knew him and asked him why he was in such miserable shape. Joe couldn’t speak a word and just said that he needed to see his wife and children. He told the chief that he had something in the back of his truck, as he didn’t know how to say what he had done. The chief went out to take a look at his truck and was shocked to find the dead body of a man lying there. Joe was handcuffed, as was the procedure, and the chief told him to tell him what had happened because otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to help him out.
No matter how hard it was for Joe, he did the right thing and let his sense of responsibility prevail. The most intriguing bits of the film, “The Integrity of Joseph Chamber,” are the ones where Joe fights his inner self to do the right thing because he knew that if he hid the body of the trespasser in the plot, nobody would have ever found it. Even though the film’s running time is only 90 minutes, it feels long and at times dreary, though, as we said before, we had no doubts about the potential of the premise. We would have liked it if there had been a few more intertwining conflicts in the screenplay or if we had gotten to know more about the character, but then again, it’s just a subjective viewpoint. In a day and age where people conveniently choose to hide the truth if it clashes with their interests, the film “The Integrity of Joseph Chamber” shows us how a man struggles and finally wins over his impulses and decides to walk on the path of righteousness no matter how difficult it might be.