Film Review by Kam Williams
Martha Barlow (Nadia Litz) is a femme fatale with a checkered past and plenty of skeletons in her closet. Consequently, she’s done her best to keep off the grid, raising her son, Andy (Justin Kelly), in relative seclusion in rural Saskatchewan.
Seems like everybody around their tiny prairie town is the sort of unsavory character you cross the street to avoid, including Martha’s boyfriend/ and partner in crime, Tommy (Rossif Sutherland). The couple’s favorite haunt is the local racetrack which is where they concoct cockamamie con games, like robbing a bar patron who has propositioned a prostitute by waiting to pounce until the john is in a compromising position. The pair’s felonious antics don’t sit well with teenaged Andy, who hangs out at the track because the girl (Holly Deveaux) he has a crush on works there.
The plot thickens during an attempted shakedown gone wrong, after Tommy shoots the horse of an owner who refuses to be intimidated. The situation further degenerates when the tables are turned and Tommy takes a bullet from the barrel of the victim’s gun.
Seeing his mother’s life threatened, Andy reluctantly gets involved, and the next thing you know mother and son are on the run. As fugitives from justice, Martha and Andy seek refuge at the home of her estranged father (Stephen McHattie), a geezer disinclined to offer them a port in the storm, especially since he’s never even met his grandson before. Another fly in the ointment is the fact that Andy’s father (David La Haye) has escaped from prison and is intent on tracking down Martha.
Thus unfolds Big Muddy, an intriguing neo noir marking the impressive directorial debut of Jefferson Moneo. Atmospheric and absorbing, this well-crafted whodunit is rather reminiscent of Red Rock West (1999), for folks familiar with that cult classic co-starring Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper.
A deliberately-paced, multi-layered mystery, tailor-made for nostalgic, pulp fiction fans.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 104 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Media
To see a trailer for Big Muddy, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn3ds0i3f_s
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