Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Deadfall": a wintry crime spree without Coen-style humor

Deadfall” (also called “Kin”) has a line “You can choose your girl friend, but you can’t choose your family.”  Magnolia Pictures and “2929” have produced a taut thriller, spectacular to watch in the northern woods (it’s supposed to take place on the Michigan U.P. but it was filmed in Quebec, like a good old DGC film) without quite all the ironic black comedy of a Coen Brother’s film (yes, the north country sometimes isn’t for “old men” either.)  It seems that a Sandy-like superstorm has struck Michigan before Thanksgiving, leading to constant whiteouts for the first half of the film.

The movie starts with a spectacular auto wreck in the woods, and a brother  Addison (Eric Bana) and sister (Olivia Wilde) on the lam after an Indian casino heist gone wrong.  With Addison on the run, it’s not safe to live anywhere in the surrounding woods.  The film has two brutal rural home invasions, and another subplot involving an ex-con boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), who falls in with the sister as the film heads toward a climax on Thanksgiving Daywith Jay’s parents (Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson).  There’s also an aspiring deputy sheriff  Hannah (Kate Mara), whose dad (“The Sheriff”, Treat Williams, from “Everwood”) tries to keep her down, as she aspires to go to the FBI Academy.  There is something terrifying about Addison's attitude: he is out to prove you a coward if you can't stand up him and protect "family" from his shotgun barrel.  

I saw the film at Landmark E-Street in Washington DC, light crowd, great presentation on a wide screen.  This movie keeps you on edge, and makes you (or me, at least) root for characters you wouldn’t think you could “like”.  Yet, after a number of Coen films to compare it to, it comes across as a “good B movie”, definitely genre-driven.
The film is directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky and written by Zach Dean. The official site is here

There’s an earlier Coppola film by the same name (1993), unrelated story, owned by Lionsgate.

I’ll mention a 1976 film with Kristofferson, “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea”  (Embassy), a strange film that I saw on the Upper East Side with a friend in my NYC days.

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