Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Single Shot

Sam Rockwell has a talent for picking good and unusual projects, and also delivering the goods regardless of what the role is. In the past few years we've seen him do tortured soul (Moon), wacky man-child (The Way, Way Back), evil genius (Iron Man 2), insecure son (Everybody's Fine), weakling bartender (Cowboys vs. Aliens), a psychopath or two (Seven Psychopaths), and a dogged reporter (Frost vs. Nixon).

That's what you call a "working actor".

And you often don't know which way his character's going to go.

Add "salt-of-the-earth hillbilly" to the list of characters he's played entertainingly and believably.

The premise is this: While out hunting, John Moon shoots at a deer only discover it was actually a young woman. Distraught, he tries to figure out who she is and discovers a big cache of money. The money leads to a series of increasingly menacing situations, of course, with John Moon having to figure out what, in life, is important.

So, it's kind of Winter's Bone meets A Simple Plan. Maybe a little Mechanic thrown in.

But it's not really. Though there are certain similarities with A Simple Plan, that was largely about the group dynamic and the costs to the main character's family. In A Single Shot, John Moon is separated from his wife and son, and (at least initially) sees the money as an opportunity to get them back.

But the ethical situation is very different. The thing that weighs on his mind is the killing of the girl, and his subsequent treatment of her body.

Great performance from Rockwell. Awesome supporting cast of great character actors. William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Melissa Leo, Jeffrey Wright, W. Earl Brown, Jason Isaacs: Basically a bunch of people you might not recognize, or people you do recognize from that thing you liked even if you don't know their name.

The Boy pronounced it "super-good" and I agreed, though it took me a good 40 minutes to be able to parse what everyone was saying. (I think they mumble out there in the hills.) The first few minutes of the film are completely without dialogue, and they're quite strong, and the movie follows a pattern of action and emotion where the words being said aren't that important. The final scene is dialogue-free, or nearly so, as well.

There is a lengthy bit of exposition before the climax which sets things up, though. I could mostly follow that. Heh.

Good paranoid suspense thriller. It comes out officially next month. (For some reason, our local theater has been getting Oscar films all summer long. Not sure if it's a rules thing or an accessibility thing or what.)


  1. Excellent review! I read the book solely because of Ted Levine's involvement. As John Moon's story progressed, it was easy to envision Rockwell absolutely embodying another in a long line of "made-for-Rockwell" characters!

  2. Thank you.

    Rockwell and Levine both have this "vanish into the role" thing going that's just amazing. The guy who played Jame Gumb then went on to be Leland Stottlemeyer? Damn.

  3. Ted Levine is amazing... I saw Shutter Island recently, he had a brief but very memorable scene in that.


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