Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Writers: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Stars: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer
Plot: An alcoholic ex-cop (Hawkes) finds the body of a young woman and, through an act of self-redemption, becomes hell-bent on finding the killer.
Running Time: 91 Minutes
IMDB Score: 6.6
Why I Watched It: Mostly the cast, the trailer looked promising.
Random Thoughts: First off Small Town Crime is a bad title, alright not bad but boring and very generic honestly a 100 movies could be called that.
Octavia Spencer was one of the producers on this and what’s interesting about that is the film isn’t a star vehicle for her, she’s in it but a supporting role.
What I Liked: I didn’t know much about this film, I knew just what the trailer told me so I went in kind of blind or trailer blind and as it started I was wondering if this was going to be a straight drama or more of a crime thriller. The film very much starts out as an indie character piece, Hawkes plays an ex-cop who is an alcoholic, and we follow him around and at this point I wasn’t sure where the film was going but at one point he finds a girl’s body and then the plot kicks in and we enter film noir/detective territory and for me this is when the film begins to get good, this is pretty much a noir, Hawkes pretty much begins investigating what happened to the girl and he and we meet a lot of quirky characters.
Let me throw in that I love film noir, detective stories and sadly we don’t get many anymore but this one sucked me in for two main reasons the cast and the script,both are very good and for the most part understated, John Hawkes is a very good character actor and he’s perfect here cause he’s perfect at playing grey, he doesn’t come off good or bad, he’s kind of likeable but you’re not real sure, he has a very brutal backstory and that is done well, done in flashbacks and wants different is Hawkes character doesn’t really talk about it, it’s clear he’s carrying it but it’s not what this story is about. The main plot is very layered and it tool me awhile to get the vibe that this is almost a private detective origin story.
The film is more straight forward than I thought it would be, this is a tight little thriller, it doesn’t have a lot of action but the violence is very gritty and it’s played straight and at times brutal. The direction real is subtle, the Nelms brothers to their credit show re-straight and they don’t go big they keep this character based and they build slowly to the plot. The cast here is very good now a thing of note Octavia Spencer plays John Hawkes sister, now in most films that would require an explanation or a big backstory not here, Anthony Anderson is married to Spencer’s character and for over half the movie we don’t know he’s Hawkes brother-in-law. I can’t say how much a like a film not over explaining it’s characters and not bogging down a story with melodrama and back story. The mystery is done well I want to give a shout out to Michael Vartan who has the stock role of the helpful cop and Vartan not only underplays but does show he likes Hawkes character without having to say it.
What I Didn’t Like: Now the film is brisk at 91 minutes and it moves well but I do fell the beginning dragged, we see Hawkes character but we don’t learn anything about him, it takes the plot for us to get a clue about him. I fell they could have used the first 15-20 minutes better, set him up a little more. I liked the cast but a couple of actors are very underused, I love Robert Forster he has one good scene and that’s it, same as Clifton Collins Jr, he’s good here and he has a good little arc but he could have been drawn out better and defined more with more screen time. I will say for the most part the film does try very hard to be different but they do go to the huge cliche of someone getting kidnapped and we have to make an exchange finale, and yes a big shoot out, it works but it’s very very stock.
Final Thoughts: I enjoyed it, it is a little left of centre, not Hollywood or popcorn at all, it does a nice job of telling a well crafted but small scale film noir.