Craig's First Take: "A Single Shot"
on 2013-09-24 13:09
Who wants to see Sam Rockwell give another morally complex performance? If you answered yes, then you’re a candidate for “A Single Shot”, director David M. Rosenthal’s southern drama.
Written by Mathew F. Jones, based on his novel, “Shot” is about Rockwell’s John Moon, a hunter who pulls a Dick Cheney and mistakenly shoots and kills a woman while hunting a deer. What he finds next to the body is a toolbox full of money, which is quite convenient at the moment because his wife (Kelly Reilly) is ready to provide greener pastures for their infant son, and she’s willing to do it with or without Jon.
The woman John shot comes off like collateral damage for a man who’s had nothing but bad luck in life. Not only does his wife want a divorce, but he’s also lost quite a few jobs and been arrested for poaching. But while he never seems like man of the year, Rockwell still makes him a compelling survivor, one who is consistently called upon to think in the moment and deal with the demons from his decisions later. Even when he does the dumbest thing ever, we understand his need to keep pushing forward, especially considering the low-lifes who seem to creep around the people his wife is in contact with.
Of course we know that this money has “dirty” written all over it and that opens a whole new can of worms for Jon where it seems nearly every one (including a completely blitzed but wonderfully transfixing performance by Jeffrey Wright) in the town is ready to backstab. Threats and killings are done in order to intimidate John to give the money back, which the increasingly desperate John has spent.
Rosenthal frames this small-town America in hazy, cold, rain-soaked scenes, which add to the suspenseful silences and all sorts of nefarious villains. William H. Macy is also kinda fun to watch in a couple of scenes as, I believe, a Canadian-accented, toupee-wearing lawyer. The film moves slowly, it’s not something that is entirely unfamiliar, and the ending turns unnecessarily gruesome and also a bit anti-climactic but it’s also really well made and if you love Rockwell, it’s a must watch.