Monday, February 2, 2009
This Movie exemplifies everything that is great about Indie movies from the USA.
Its the story of a family that has been severely dysfunctional right from the time the parents got together initially. With the unseen alcoholic father's hatred towards his wife, he creates life-long bitterness by having 3 boys with her, of whom, he just names 'Son' ,'Boy' & 'Kid'. Giving proper names may create a bond that he clearly didn't want. After leaving his wife after the 3rd child is born, he promptly has a religious 'conversion' & remarries another woman, creating another brood of 4 boys this time-to whom he shows affection towards. This is not unnoticed by the original 3, who by now, are clearly glad to be shod of this person-even if he has supposedly 'turned his life around'.
When the mother shows up at Son's house to inform him that his father is dead, it sets in motion a chain of events that, as these kinda things usually go, pear-shaped.
Although, in someways its a familiar tale, full credit must be given to the director Jeff Nichols for creating a powerful, superbly acted, beautifully shot story of the highest quality. He, with the actors create a totally realistic vision of the death of a family unit, and the struggles to make some sort of sense of the hellish hand of fate that's been dealt to them. But crucially, Nichols never labors any points to make the grand statement. Instead, its conveyed in many subtle ways. Dialogue is suitably sparse, no-one given to making any 5 minute grandstanding overtures. Mostly, its effectively telegraphed via differing body language, distinct looks in the characters eyes summing up how they are feeling-or reacting to any given situation.
Most directors will say that if you cast a movie well, the rest will just take care of itself. This is oh so true with this story. There are no "name" actors or "Stars" to distract you from the characters, but a special mention must be made for the lead role of Son Hayes, played to perfection by Michael Shannon. He totally gets the feel for his character & is utterly convincing with his seething rage that is kept in check most of the time. Its only when his brothers are threatened by the other set of half-brothers, that he resorts to physical violence.
This is one of the best things I've seen in a long time and I will certainly keep an eye on what the director creates in the future. Easily highly recommended!