Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Once a rodeo champ, Sam (John Bernthal) nowadays only drives his pick up truck for provisions for the cheap roadside motel he manages in a southern Alaskan small town. One of the guests befriends Sam; Elwood (Christopher Abbott) is a young man with a propensity for violence, with a connection to Lila (Imogen Poots) the widow of one of three men shot to death in a bar one night.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Small town noir has never had a better soundtrack. The Blair brothers have devised a magnificent sound, which not only creates the right mood but helps tell the story where dialogue is not needed. But the China brothers also excel with a screenplay that is economical yet full to the brim with observation and drama. Director Jamie Dagg says he was attracted to it because he knows small towns and was keen to explore the intricacies of small town relationships under stress. He moved it from Virginia in the original script, to Alaska - where people go to get lost.

Dagg's casting eye is superb: casting Jon Bernthal opposite Christopher Abbott in characters that are enhanced by their vast differences gives the film its taut, edgy tone. Bernthal's Sam is withdrawn and low key, while Abbott is forever on edge, even when he isn't. And Imogen Poots, she of the innocent face, playing this disarmingly naive young wife ... it's brave casting but it works exactly because it is unexpected.

The noir sensibility is powerfully captured by Jessica Lee Gagne's cinematography, and without attracting attention to itself makes great use of reflections - right from the opening shot.

Authentic and understated (for the genre) the film lets the characters unravel the story - to its great credit.

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(US, 2017)

CAST: Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott, Imogen Poots, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Abrahamson, Odessa Young, Darcy Laurie, Joseph Lyle Taylor

PRODUCER: Chris Ferguson, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Fernando Lourerio, Roberto Vasconcellos

DIRECTOR: Jamie M. Dagg

SCRIPT: Benjamin China, Paul China


EDITOR: Duff Smith

MUSIC: Brooke Blair, Will Blair


RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2017

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