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Rated 3.03 stars
by 250 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Murphy's Law in Action
by Betty Jo Tucker

Best not to know much about Cut Bank before watching the movie. I knew only that the cast included fine actors like John Malkovich, Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bruce Dern. Because there are so many little surprises throughout the film, that worked for me. So I donít want to ruin those scenes or sequences for you. Still, there are some things I can reveal -- in poetry form, of course.

Cut Bank may seem

a bit too slow.

Be patient, folks.

It needs that flow.


This pace makes sense

to grasp the crime

and its mix-up --

a farce sublime.  


Good people can

do ugly acts.

In small towns, too,

those are the facts.


If something can

go wrong, it will.

And when it does,

who pays the bill?


A sheriff tries

to solve the case.

Murder, he finds

throws him off base.


Young lovers want

to leave the town.

How can they go?

Her dad will frown.


So many deaths

canít be explained.

Who is to blame?

And what is gained?


This thriller ends

with quite a shock.

But in this case

my lips Iíll lock.

However, it won't hurt to fill you in on some background information, regular style. The story takes place in a Montana town called Cut Bank, population 3,000. Dwayne (Hemsworth) wants desperately to move anywhere else -- and heís involved in a scheme to get enough money for a start in another location. Heís in love with the lively Cassandra (Teresa Palmer), who hopes to win the Miss Cut Bank beauty pageant. Dwayne works for Cassandraís judgmental father (Thornton). After the reserved sheriff (Malkovich) starts investigating the murder of an eccentric local postman (Dern), all hell breaks loose -- and a mysterious character (Michael Stuhlbarg) looking for a missing parcel keeps popping up -- as does a hungry U.S. postal official (Oliver Platt).

All actors do a fine job, but itís Malkovich who gives a performance that goes straight to the heart. As a sheriff whoís never had to deal with a murder case before, he makes us care about what his character is doing every step of the way.    

Despite all the violence, there's lots to like about Cut Bank. It seems reminiscent of the popular Fargo TV series. And no wonder. This is the first feature film directed by Matt Shakman, who also helmed some Fargo episodes. Robert Patino's screenplay serves up interesting -- and sometimes humorous -- dialogue plus intriguing characters. Ben Richardsonís cinematography captures the drab small town atmosphere but also includes colorful scenes showing a field of glorious yellow flowers in full bloom, and the excellent background music by James Newton Howard never overpowers whatís happening on screen. Itís easy to understand why Cut Bank won the Audience Choice for Best Feature at the 2014 Edmonton International Film Festival.      

(Released by A24 and rated ďRĒ for violence and language.)

For more information about Cut Bank, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.  

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