Written & Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly
Starring: Jill Hennessy, Amy Rutherford, Martha Plimpton, and Peter Stormare
A modern, gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer from a small Ontario Mennonite town who hides a violent past until a local murder upsets the calm of his newly reformed life.
Finally, a “good” film from talented writers, directors, and actors that managed to make me care less for a film than if I hadn’t watched it at all. The Cohen Brother’s were not evoked during the 76 minutes I watched this film. Apparently all you need to fulfill such specific comparison is film in a backwater Ontario town, and include quirky characters that know everyone’s business while they eat pie. By quirky I mean boring and maladjusted.
A local cop, Walter (Stormare), carries a heavy badge in a town where everyone is not only comfortable with, but expected to know their neighbor’s dirty laundry. Apparently Walter has a bit of a temper, at least we assume so from the vague flashback that shows him beating the hell out of some unlucky bastard. His fortitude is tested when the town has their first ever murder. If you think this is a mystery whodunit, you’re in for bad news. If you can find a believable suspect in the first ten minutes – case closed. This film wants to be art so badly that it skips over common courtesies we could expect from any watered down minimalist flick. Compelling performances: no. A palpable or tense plot: no. It might have Sam Raimi’s rural feel liked to his masterpiece, A Simple Plan, but that’s it. This is so art intent that it derides itself.
Walter has problems with his ex girlfriend, his father isn’t on speaking terms with him; and that’s all good because we wouldn’t want to trouble this cast for another twenty minutes of dialogue. Instead of having real conversations or giving us some real back story, we get full songs every ten minutes that attempt to show us the overpowering regret and maladjusted thoughts of a protagonist in need of a fucking hug. Don’t be pissed at the actors or camera guy, you can only work within the limits a writer and director give you – and that’s not much for this rural yarn of redemption and ridiculous. Pay no attention to the awards filling up the poster, this film is total shit. Even the location, which I enjoyed at first, enters into the fray and becomes one more hackneyed level of mediocrity. Nice try. Skip this regardless of the less than 90 minute run time. Small Town Murder Songs is the type of movie I think Dwight Schrute’s (The Office) parents probably attended on date night. Let that sink in.