July 13, 2016

Cold in July

Jim Mickle, 2014
Any fan of Dexter probably believes that Michael C. Hall has paid his dues enough to give his future work a shot. Even those (I among one of them) who gave up in the final season on the mostly great series. That wasn’t his fault. Dexter showed he is a guy who has range, constantly having to shift from the unassuming blue collar guy to the struggling-to-keep-restrained serial killer. And although in tone Cold in July is a dark film, it’s quite a departure from his work on Dexter. His character Dane is an everyman character, mullet and all, living in Texas as a picture framer working out of a mom and pop storefront. Awoken in the middle of the night by an intruder in his home, he impulsively takes action to protect his family and finds that his life is immediately turned upside down. What transpires is an attempt to return his life to it’s normalcy, but he soon finds that the disruption in the routine has shaken things up to a point that he can’t help but venture into the depths of the mystery surrounding that intruder.

This pursuit leads him to the company of two men, Russel (Sam Shepard) and Jim-Bob (Don Johnson), men who are living the complete opposite life as himself but men that he can’t seem to distance himself from. And while there are moments where your eyebrow is raised, wondering why Dane doesn’t just move on with his life and let sleeping dogs lie - it sort of makes sense. It sort of makes sense that he is hungry for some disruption from the routine. And also a sense of closure on everything. Cold in July is an ultimately satisfying film, not without it’s flaws. You are introduced to Russel quite abruptly without much explanation, you really have to do the quick work yourself to realize who he is. But the movie is well shot, sounds good (especially with the period-fitting synthwave soundtrack). And the chemistry between the three men are enough to fuel your engagement. When does Sam Shepard NOT deliver?

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