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Small Town Crime – Review (London Film Festival)

Small Town Crime Review (London Film Festival)

Respected character actor John Hawkes is given a chance to shine in this gratifying sunshine-noir detective thriller.

Starring: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Clifton Collins Jr., Robert Forster, Octavia Spencer
Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

A disgraced alcoholic ex-cop (Hawkes, The Sessions) finds the body of a young woman after a night sleeping in the desert and feels compelled to solve the mystery behind it, much to the annoyance of his old colleagues. As he grills the shady locals and the circles the truth, he finds two hitmen on his trail, and realises he’s putting his adopted siblings (Anderson and Spencer) in mortal danger…

This is a pulpy noir with a dark sense of humour and a great central performance from John Hawkes (driving a hella-noisy Death Proof car). He gets a solid assist from Clifton Collins Jr (who goes through a great arc from sinister pimp to amusingly juiced sidekick), Robert Forster (who’s always watchable), and a croaky Father Christmas-style villain with orthopaedic shoes. The locals are well fleshed out (even the bar lady has a great scene involving a badge), and the town feels populated (not so common in lower budget thrillers).

The narrative (with shades of Payback, Dirty Harry, the Coen Brothers and Shane Black) builds nicely and hits all the right notes. It’s visually straightforward and doesn’t break new ground or have a distinctive voice but Small Town Crime is completely satisfying and likeable.

Grade: A-

Small Town Crime will be available on Netflix in early 2018.

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