Options

By Michael Wooldridge | Drama
A young CEO is extorted on the eve of the company's IPO.

Avery Ross is the young, dynamic CEO of a chemical company once run by her father Dean, who chose Avery out of all his children and groomed her for her role.

But on the eve of her company’s IPO, she is blackmailed by a former company worker, which threatens to everything her father built as the company’s legacy. Dean and two other company execs want to simply “eliminate” the issue.

But as Avery starts to uncover the truth of her father’s legacy — and the true nature of their business — she is faced with a tough choice: to do the unthinkable or face the end of the company she’s in charge of.

Writer-director Michael Wooldridge’s dramatic thriller isn’t about stunning action sequences, suspenseful break-ins or other thriller mainstays. Instead, the drama hinges on ethics and choice, which becomes a moral crucible for Avery. It’s also a story about family and legacy, and how a son or daughter is confronted with the faults and fallibility of their parents, which creates ripple effects upon their own sense of self, and their relationships as well.

The story’s dramatic and visual scope is mostly confined to the setting of Avery’s office, as well as one key event and its resulting fallout. Yet excellently structured writing judiciously widens the film, effectively sprinkling backstory and background information about the blackmail attempt — and the company’s questionable actions — to raise the stakes.

But the real dramatic clash is not between the blackmailer and the CEO, but between Avery and her father, who comes into the film to offer advice and guidance. As their conversation unravels, the truth about the matter becomes clear, and Avery’s conception of the company she leads and the father who raised her is shattered.

Lead actor Caissie Levy — a Broadway veteran who originated the role of Elsa in the musical version of “Frozen” — along with Thomas Kopache as her father offer powerful performances as the family members. Levy works excellently with the script’s many emotional layers, portraying not just the ire of an executive faced with a tough decision, but the disillusionment of a daughter who learns her family isn’t what she thought it was. All those emotions and layers go into her final decision, which changes everything for her going forward — and in a way she may not expect or is able to control.

“Options” has the aesthetic trappings of a corporate thriller, with its glossy polished photography, tense score and multi-layered writing. But at its heart, it’s about family, disillusionment, and coming to terms with a parental legacy. Bringing new layers to the idea of “sins of our father,” it offers a powerful portrait of a moment when a daughter discovers a devastating truth about her father and his character — and must move beyond him in order to clean up the consequences of his mistakes.




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