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A Single Shot - Movie Review

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A Single Shot - movie review

4 stars

David M. Rosenthal’s A Single Shot is a brutal and savage slice of crime cinema.  It’s as moody as the Mississippi river and as poetic.  While it offers nothing new to the genre, the thriller does make for some authentic backwoods film noir.  Starring Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy and the impeccable Jeffrey Wright, A Single Shot is an understated film that delivers rewards for the patient viewer.

Written by Matthew F. Jones and based on his own novel, A Single Shot could have almost been titled “A Single Word” due to the riveting sparseness that is integral to the tone of his work.  Wordlessly, A Single Shot opens with John Moon (Rockwell) readying himself for a chilly early morning deer hunt.  Moon is a poacher by trade.  The NO HUNTING signs are clearly posted but that doesn’t stop him.  Have gun will travel seems to be the code.

This is the morning that will change his sorry life…but not for the better.  He sees movement, spies a deer, takes aim and fires.  But there is no deer.  It is an unknown female girl that he kills.  Afraid for his life, Moon hides the body but not before going through her things and discovering a lockbox of $100 dollar bills.  If you’ve seen one crime film, you know nothing good comes from this maneuver.

Try as he may, Moon just can’t seem to throw enough of that “found” money at his problems.  He hires a local lawyer (William H. Macy) to help prevent his estranged wife Moira (Kelly Reilly) from divorcing him but all it does it alert the criminals who know the girl to his whereabouts.  Moon just can’t seem to untangle his two left feet from the unintentional mess the murder in the woods has made of his life.

Rockwell is perfect as the disheveled, baseball hat wearing dope.  His words echo with paranoia while his demeanor remains aloof and quiet.  Wright, as his drunken one-eyed friend, is just as believable as they discover their fates – as ugly and poetic as they are – remain, unfortunately, linked together in their own slurred speech.  Macy as the sleazy small-town layer is solid but a bit underused as Moon discovers just how deep he is in the multi-layered quagmire of his own doing.

Beautifully captured on film by Eduard Grau, A Single Shot – complete with dense fog rolling off the mountains – is rich in atmosphere and relies heavily upon its natural environments to help solidify its strengths.  Sport this is not.  No, the settings here are character themselves and establish a primitive fear within viewers and characters alike.  This is magnificent footage; turning simple shots and images into the stuff of nightmares.

This is a tragic tale that comes across in its many, many small moments.  A Single Shot is all about the small details; those tiny clicking minutes that pass the time.  There’s a chance that one could watch the film and feel that little happens.  I suppose that would be a correct experience.  Nothing big does happen.  But there is a smattering of small chilling moments that add up to form a similar and quiet majesty like that of Winter’s Bone.

Greed doesn’t always announce itself upon arrival.  It likes to sneak up and bang its victims across the back of their heads with the shovel they used to dig their own grave with.    And that is the consequence of A Single Shot.

A Single Shot - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexual content, nudity, language and brief drug use.
Runtime:
116 mins.
Director
: David M. Rosenthal
Writer: Matthew F. Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Tagline:
One Secret
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't wanna a divorce. I just want my family back."
Distributor:
Tribeca Film
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 20, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available

Synopsis: David M. Rosenthal's white-knuckle thriller starts with a bang: a single shot, aimed at a lone deer, that hits and kills a young woman. The hunter, John Moon (Sam Rockwell), watches her die before discovering a box of money near her body. In a desperate panic, he takes the cash — hiring a low-rent lawyer (William H. Macy) to fight his wife's (Kelly Reilly) divorce suit — and attempts to cover up the killing. But when he discovers that the money belonged to a group of hardened criminals, the hunter becomes the hunted in this tense cat-and-mouse struggle in the backwoods of West Virginia.

No details available.

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