Blogging from Cinequest: Small Town Murder Songs

So there’s part of a good film in here somewhere.  Peter Stormare (the hulking brute in Fargo) plays the local cop in a rural Canadian community with German-speaking Mennonites.  The cop comes from the traditional Mennonites, but he is ostracized by them (including his father and brother) for a previous act of violence.  Now he has adopted a personal religiosity himself.  Then there is a murder, and the suspect is the new boyfriend of the cop’s ex (Jill Hennessy – very good here).  Stormare gives a fine performance as the cop.  So far so good.

But the movie drags.  It’s at only 75 minutes, but feels like two hours.    Indeed, there are some completely superfluous scenes with Stormare’s partner and the partner’s 12-year-old daughter.

One of the of the film’s potential assets is the unfamiliar setting.   But after some old Protestant hymns and some stark scenes of northern nothingness, the audience is jarred by very loud and distracting call-and-response music that is completely inappropriate to the time and place.  Disappointingly, the story relies on that hackneyed gimmick of using TV and radio newscasts to advance the plot.  Finally, writer-director Ed Gass-Donnelly climaxes the story with a Christ-like sacrifice that doesn’t fit this heretofore realistic movie.  Overall, not a success.

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