14 February 2005 | filmluvr-1
This small town murder story offers something to think about.
I rented this movie on a whim because I had seen almost everything else at the video store and I was very pleasantly surprised. This is a film of terrific extremes, from very in-your-face violence and language to real moments of subtly. Basically its about a very small town, DUNSMORE, with a really nasty bully, Ronny Pritcher, played by W. Earl Brown from 'Deadwood,' who is gunned down one night on Main Street by unknown killers. It then follows a Citizen Kane like structure when an investigator, played by Kadeem Hardison, comes to find out what happened. As the investigation proceeds we see that Ronny was really a small town terrorist with a lot of enemies. What makes it particularly interesting is how close to the vest the filmmakers tell it. You have a feeling you know what's going on but nothing is really given away and just when you think you know where it's going it takes you somewhere else. I was also impressed by the acting. W. Earl Brown is every bit as menacing here as he is in Deadwood. Kadeem Hardison is surprisingly credible in a serious role, nothing at all like the Dwayne Wayne character he played on 'A Different World.' Jennetta Arnette, from 'Boys Don't Cry,' is perfect as Ronny's put-upon older wife he has two of them at he same time his second, younger wife, played by Alicia Lagano, is one of the least introspective teens I've seen since the movie 'Thirteen,' but then has a great moment of self-realization as she talks about Ronny in death and seems to sense that she has lost more than her husband, but her youth and innocence as well. Talia Shire, from Rocky and The Godfather, plays the local schoolteacher and tells an absolutely chilling story about this bad guy as a child. Barry Corbin gets the good-old-boy-sheriff of the year award as the only person willing to take Ronny on on his own violent terms, and Rus Blackwell, the sleazy cop from 'Monster,' plays the friendly town Sheriff with the same subtly and understatement as a Chris Cooper. It's obvious this film had a modest budget, but neither the production nor the story suffer from it. There is also a lot of dark and sometimes twisted humor. Finally, the one thing that makes this movie stand out for me, unlike other small-town murder mysteries, is that for all it's in-your-face intensity it raises really thoughtful questions about morality, capital punishment, good versus evil and other issues of right and wrong and actually leaves you with something to think about when it's over. I'm still thinking about it days after having seen it. I'd recommend checking it out.