Small towns tend to be the worst at keeping secrets. So when your sheriff is revealed to be a long standing, sadomasochistic murder machine, it can come as somewhat of a shock.
Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is a deputy in a dusty southern berg where he was born and raised. A trusted and upstanding member of the community, he unwisely starts up a relationship with a local whore (Jessica Alba) who he had been charged with running out of the city limits. The affair quickly spirals out of control leaving Lou to cover up his tracks the best way he knows how: a BIG-ASS pile of fashionably dressed, 1960’s corpses.
This film seems to only be 2/3rds complete. With an abrupt beginning almost totally devoid of an secondary character development and an even more disjointed ending, the films fails to make us care much about any character, including our protagonist. In most places it tries to make up for severe lapses in narrative explanation and relational interaction between characters by overdosing on atmosphere and mannerism. Everyone is excitingly dressed and twangs along with a lovely drawl or catch phrase but it’s all pomp and no circumstance. Without real motivation all the idiosyncrasies can’t help these flat and meandering characters.
The decision to add Affleck as a voiceover throughout the film could have been pre-determined but, I suspect, that is was added when the audience expressed it’s inability to follow even the most simple of interactions. Also, in one of the more disingenuous moves seen since “Twin Peaks”, his reliability as a narrator is called into question towards the end, making the entire exercise as unfulfilling as listening to a man mutter to himself on a street corner. The film maintains profoundly graphic violence throughout, which seems to replace the character’s growth as the source for climax and/or valley. I found these scenes gratuitous if only for their triviality to characters development or plot necessity.
I wanted to enjoy this movie. The cast is distinguished with supporting members including Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Simon Baker and Bill Pullman. But all are reduced to clunky, almost puppeteer-esque movements through the course of the film. Perhaps that was the intent of the director to again indicate the unreliability and skewed perspective of our anti-hero by making those around him somewhat one-dimensional, but if that is the case this film was even more poorly executed than I previously thought.
Summary: An interesting idea, executed as a patchwork of partially cooked personas and an even less directional story. All involved have done much better work. Skip this 60’s S&M love letter.
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