Nadia Litz pursued by James Le Gros out of her past
"Big Muddy" (2014) is a rural (or prairie) neo-noir set in the Big Muddy Valley badlands of Saskatchewan. The settings are captured beautifully in ways that complement the noir story. It focuses on one family. The diminutive Nadia Litz lives with the tall Rossif Sutherland (Donald's son), and they rob people when they're not going to the racetrack. The household includes Litz's 17-year old son (Justin Kelly), not yet a man. Meanwhile Litz's husband (David La Haye), whom she hasn't seen in many years, escapes prison and heads back to their home country. There lives Litz's father, Stephen McHattie, who runs a farm by himself, working hard during the day and drinking at night. He's estranged from daughter Litz. A local cop knows him and questions him about the possible destination of La Haye but he knows nothing.
A shady man from Litz's past shows up at the track with a horse he owns. That's James Le Gros with an armed, dangerous and bearded bodyguard. Their western hats and clothing give the movie a western flavor as do McHattie's isolated house and spread and the horse angle.
A botched robbery sets the tone for the noir story as does the arrival of Le Gros from Litz's past. This produces conflict with Sutherland, who won't let Litz handle Le Gros in her own way. Son Kelly gets involved too. There is a serious altercation. It's not accurate for the summary to say that he "commits a horrible crime" and to focus on that. The situation is more complex than that. Litz and son Kelly flee the area with a suitcase filled with Le Gros's money.
As is predictable, all roads and characters converge on McHattie's spread. The story slows down to develop and renew family relationships. McHattie hasn't seen his grandson. Kelly believes his father Le Haye is dead and knows nothing of him, and Le Haye wants to reunite with Litz and his son. Le Gros picks up their trail.
The movie is a worthwhile rural noir, developing very good atmosphere and featuring some good acting, but one should not expect it to be a top-notch story or movie. There are some plot peculiarities. The cop disappears after his perfunctory interview of McHattie. The search for Le Haye seems to end, as he moves around fairly freely. At first, the fugitives are on guard for Le Gros, but then they ignore that potential threat altogether. The depth and emotional impact of the story, which is on the predictable side, are both left wanting.
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