A modern, gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer from a small Ontario Mennonite town who hides a violent past until a local murder upsets the calm of his newly reformed life.
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When a protective father meets a murderous ex-con, both need to deviate from the path they are on as they soon find themselves entangled in a downwards spiral of lies and violence while having to confront their own inner psyche.
Walter is the chief of police in a small Ontario town that has its first murder victim, an attractive young woman who is found naked on the shores of the nearby lake. The woman isn't local and while the Ontario Provincial Police have taken the lead in the investigation, Walter assists where he can. The town is mostly a close-knit Mennonite community and Walter has recently returned to his church. He is also trying to deal with his own temper that led to a violent incident some months before. As the young woman is identified, it becomes apparent that Walter's former love interest may be lying. Written by
brilliant acting, thoughtful screenplay, effective film
Recommended for watchers that appreciate the fine enactment of a well-crafted screenplay. Direction also very good. All the actors had their moments, and some were indeed memorable: I shall always remember the look between Rita and Steve at the end when Steve is in the back of the police vehicle. Let's just say brilliant acting, direction, and camera-work must culminate to capture something that good. Of course, one will need to watch what comes before to reach that point. The pace of the movie is deliberate, and dialog is often exchanged haltingly, especially from our main man, Walter (Peter Stormare depicts him from the inside out -- excellent all the way through; also loved the lingering accent, which fits Walter perfectly). Music and biblical quotes were a bit jangling, I must agree, as many other reviewers have noted. The quotes were more of a problem than the music for me, because I have a problem with quotes in general. As a viewer, I don't need to be told what a section of movie is going to be about. That's a bit of an insult, in fact. Anyway, take the quotes out and the movie would have been just as watchable from my perspective. Music -- OK, it adds atmosphere, though again I probably would have enjoyed the movie just as much without it. Reminiscent of another Mennonite-centric film I saw directed by Carlos Reygadas in Mexico, Silent Night, though that was brilliant in a very different way.
To recap, here, "Small Town Murder Songs" is a title that describes the movie literally; the acting, screenplay, and direction make this a watchable film, especially for the contemplative viewer.
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