In Forged Chuco (Manny Perez), just released from prison after serving eight years for the killing of his wife, has a very rough return to the world. Cesar (Jaime Tirelli), leader of the violent gang from the old days, gives him a job to do, whether he wants it or not. And Chuco’s son, Machito (David Castro), who saw his parents’ final fight as a child, has become a troubled teenager, abused and homeless. When he finds his father, he must introduce himself before warning: “You killed my mother. And I’m going to kill you.”

Chuco, desperate to save himself and reconnect with his son, comes into $50,000 Cesar is expecting. As the dragnet tightens, Machito, torn between his vow and a new sense of his parent, is deeply shaken.

Forged, directed by William Wedig from a story he wrote with Mr. Perez, might have focused just on the difficulties and temptations facing an ex-con, in the tradition of “Straight Time” or “Carlito’s Way.” Instead it’s something more: an examination of the loyalties and obligations of families pushed well past the breaking point, a meditation on whether redemption is thinkable, let alone possible.

Zeus Morand’s cinematography keeps the gritty winter landscapes in and around Scranton, Pa., bleakly colored in grays and browns; the performances are stark and believable, none more so than Mr. Perez’s. And while only 77 minutes long, the movie doesn’t feel rushed; nicely paced, it merely shows that Mr. Wedig is sure of his material. Relentlessly unsentimental, Forged is nasty, brutish and short, in all the best ways.

Daniel M. Gold
The New York Times