SXSW 2017 Review: SMALL TOWN CRIME

By Jan Hamilton

This film and Small Crimes, also shown at this year’s festival, are both about disgraced former cops, but that’s where the similarity ends.  Our lead, Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) is a black-out drunk, nevertheless, he still tries to re-build his life, alternating visits to AA with nights at the bars with his buddy (Anthony Anderson) who is married to Mike’s sister (Octavia Spencer).  After a binge he awakens in a field with his car, on the way back to town he finds the dead body of a young woman in a ditch.  He thinks if he can solve this murder he can gain back some respect, his former colleagues in the police hate him; they believe his actions were responsible for the death of his former partner.  He tries unsuccessfully to get the dead girl’s parents to let him investigate, but after years of trouble, the want only to forget.  Finally the wealthy grandfather (Robert Forster) hires him to snoop about.  Mike digs into the girl’s life and even though from a good family, she was involved in drugs and prostitution.  As he investigates it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. Mike finds out he is endangering his family, and tries to resolve it all before it is too late, enlisting a strange bedfellow to his cause. 

The Bottom Line: Surprisingly funny, with strong performances from John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Clifton Collins Jr, Robert Forster and Dale Dickey.  This film is a delight, because even though Mike is a mess, we are rooting for him.

Director:  Ian Nelms, Eshom Nelms

Producer:  John J. Kelly, Brad Johnson, Parisa Caviani

Screenwriter: Ian Nelms, Eshom Nelms

Cinematographer: Johnny Derango

Editor: Traton Lee

Production Designer: Lauren Spalding

Music: Chris Westlake

Principal Cast: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson,

Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster, Clifton Collins, Jr.,

Michael Vartan, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Caity Lotz,

Jeremy Ratchford, Don Harvey, Stefanie Scott, Dale Dickey

Additional Credits: Co-Producer: Ben Rosenblatt,

Line Producer: Bryce Fillmore,

Costume Designer: Catherine Velosa,

Unit Pubicist: Ngoc Nguyen

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