Release Date – 4/2/2010 (limited)
Bill Kincaid is a well respected college professor who left behind his family in Oklahoma in order to move up in the world. He felt his twin brother Brady and his mother were a part of his life that he didn’t want to return to. But one day he gets a call that his brother has been killed so he’s forced to return home after over a decade. When he gets there, he finds out his brother is not dead but instead needs his help setting up an alibi while he takes care of some drug related business. This movie definitely has a Coen Brothers feel to it. And in my opinion, they are masters of these types of movies. It was missing that little bit extra that the Coens would throw in but its definitely still entertaining as a dark comedy.
Edward Norton plays Bill and Brady. One is a well spoken, Ivy League college professor and the other is a hick drug dealer. Two very separate characters and Norton plays them very well. You don’t even think about how it’s the same guy doing both parts. Bill is the straight man and Brady is the funny man. A comedy duo by one person. Tim Blake Nelson plays Brady’s drug dealing friend Bolger who is like the right hand man throughout the entire film. Keri Russell is Bill’s love interest. She’s pretty much the only thing keeping him around once he finds out what his brother is really up to. Bill writes off everyone in his former hometown as unintelligent country folk but he sees something different in Russell’s character. Other small parts are Susan Sarandon as the mother, Richard Dreyfuss as a Jewish businessman, and Josh Pais as an orthodontist introduced in the beginning of the film who is connected to the story by the end. Every character plays a part in setting up the plot so no one is wasted. It’s a well crafted story that had some surprises. It had a slow beginning with a few laughs but started picking up pace as we got introduced to everyone.
Tim Blake Nelson wrote and directed the film. You may remember him from The Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou. He’s not George Clooney or John Turturro but the other prisoner. So he definitely got his taste of Coen and liked it. He has written and directed before but his only really notable film is the romantic drama O from 2001. Since I’m a big fan of dark comedy (a comedic movie with some dark elements usually involving death), I was a fan of this movie. It didn’t have me hook, line, and sinker from beginning to end but it really builds up to a 75% great film. Once the basic story is laid out in front of you, Nelson has free reign to put a little uniqueness into it that he has studied and learned well from the masterful Coens.
IMDB – 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 53%
Movie Wiseguys – 7.5/10