This comedy thriller has been painted with the same brush used by the Coen brothers with everything not quite as it seems. Like a Coen film the story is tight and moves along and supported by a stellar cast you are going to get more enjoyment from the action on the screen than ‘sighs’.
The film is definitely sold as a comedy but truthfully the comedy moments have huge gaps between them, it’s not like you do not laugh at what happens but not as much as you might think. Thankfully the twists and turns, whilst possibly telegraphed to the jaded old-hands watching are quickly revealed so the build-up does not get stale or outstay its welcome.
There must be plaudits to Michael Stuhlbarg who I genuinely did not recognise until I saw the credits. He is a long way from Arnold Rothstein and here is more the evil cousin of Milton from Office Space and it is probably not a coincidence his character is named Derby Milton.
Certainly my attention span did not wonder and my disbelief was duly suspended for the entire running time the best compliment I can pay the cast.
The aforementioned Stuhlbarg played his character on the right side of creepy and not over-the-top melodramatic but the other cast were stellar, if that needs saying when you have Thornton, John Malkovich and Bruce Dern sharing screen-time. I have to give credit to Australian actress Teresa Palmer who was almost pitch perfect as the local bigwigs, sparky and positive daughter, particularly as she wasn’t give that much of a role in the first place.
Liam Hemsworth was fairly monotone and bland but this actually fit his stupefied and slightly stupid character.
Overall this is an enjoyable murder mystery that is elevated by its top notch cast but thinking about it I have the feeling something intangible is missing make it feel slightly ‘lite’ but it is still much, much better than the normal fare.