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.
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
Peter Stormare gives one of his best performances in this indie drama/thriller....
No, this movie isn't a slam-packed action film with tons of car crashes and buildings exploding while detectives remove their sunglasses dramatically while reciting a cool line right before the commercial break. No, this movie doesn't have any silly, goofy characters that come on screen and light their farts while other people are deep in thought. This is a grown up movie, dealing with grown up stuff and yes, real life. If you have a hard time dealing with that... then I suggest you close this page right now. Go on... git .. ya immature varmint, you!
Walter (Stormare in one of his best performances ever) is the police of chief in a small town in Canada. Right from the get-go, we can tell something's not quite right with the man. The townsfolk look and treat him differently (something to do with his past). Throughout the opening sequences, we can tell that Walter's being "saved". He's given himself to a "higher power" and wants to make good on his promises. We see him pull over and give a ticket to a motorist (McIntyre), who obviously has no regard for authority -- at least not Walter's authority. Everyone in town treats him with "kid gloves", if you will. But, when the body of a woman turns up by the lake.... Walter has no choice but to come full circle to his mysterious past and deal with it head-on.
The performances are what make the movie half the time. The other half is made up of story and production values. I'd rather watch a movie with some good acting and poor production values than viceversa. If I don't like the acting and/or the characters, I'll either wind up falling asleep or just trashing the movie in a scathing review. Luckily for me, this movie had some very strong performances from all of it's leads. Bonus for us, the story is good, too. It doesn't have to have political scandals and corrupt politicians, it just has to have believable characters doing believable things. The movie may seem slow-paced for some, but it really isn't if you're into the mystery/character aspect of the film. I could easily see this type of thing happening in any small town across the United States.
I would characterize this movie as a very watered-down, unfunny version of Fargo. That's not a bad thing. The story is serious, none of the actors are playing for laughs and it certainly doesn't give you a feel-good vibe. It plays more 'real-life' than pretty much any other cop drama I've ever seen before. The music for Small Town Murder Songs is exceptionally good. Yes, there are some religious overtones, but... then again, so is the entire movie. It's about a man being reborn into a certain faith. A lot of people will just disregard that and give the film a negative review because they felt it tried to 'convert them' or something, but that's not the case.
All you really need to know about this movie is as follows: a crime was committed, chief of police with a shady/mysterious past, small town gossip, murder mystery, excellent performances and adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. I don't need stuff to blow up on screen to move a plot along. I would hope that you don't need one to blow up, either. More reviews at www.soveryterry.com Final Grade: B-
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