Directed by Matt Shakman
Starring Teresa Palmer, Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton, John Malkovich and Bruce Dern
25 year-old Dwayne McLaren, a former athlete turned auto mechanic, dreams of getting out of tiny Cut Bank, Montana the coldest town in America. But his effort to do so sets in moton a deadly series of events that change his life and the life of the town forever...
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★★★½ review by serrano on Letterboxd
on paper, this film + me = boners in my pants...in reality i can't say it even moved a little.
★★★★ review by Auteur on Letterboxd
Cut Bank, MT is the coldest spot in the United States, home to 3,000 people, and the setting for the feature debut of director Matt Shakman, a director of television shows as disparate as It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and the recent critically acclaimed Fargo, which is of little surprise as Cut Bank is cut from the same cloth as the Coen brothers' 1996 hit black comedy Fargo, upon which that series is based. But unlike that film, which Cut Bank is drawing consistent comparisons to, Shakman eschews its local color and self-conscious dialogue, which will forever date it as a victim in the wake of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, for a much greater reliance on character and plot mechanics.
Cut Bank's inciting incident is yet another heist gone wrong, as Liam Hemsworth's Dwayne McLaren stages a fake murder of a postal worker (Bruce Dern), and captures it on video in order to collect the 100,000 dollar reward for having evidence of a federal crime. Things go awry when his boss, and girlfriend's father (Billy Bob Thornton), catches on, and when a local psychopath goes searching for a parcel that never got delivered, and soon all hell breaks loose as bodies start turning up left and right.
The beauty of Shakman's film is in its simplicity, and economy of storytelling. There is always a twist right around the corner, and the extensive cast is given just enough screen time and development for the actors to dig in and make their characters memorable; and in that cast is where Cut Bank truly shines. John Malkovich plays the town sheriff, all small town and "gee whiz" one minute, but deeply affected by what happens in his town and determined to see it through the next. For awhile it seems like Thornton is just along to boost the film's resume, and then he turns out to be the smartest character in the film. Oliver Platt dives into his role as a postal inspector who really knows how to eat a steak. Bruce Dern is given a moment of truly inspired dialogue that is actually bolstered by having experienced his recent performance in Alexander Payne's Nebraska. A Serious Man's Michael Stuhlbarg (another Coen brothers link) is brilliant as crazy Derby Milton, the film's loose cannon who dispatches, without a moment's hesitation, those who can't help him find his parcel. And even Liam Hemsworth shines, as both foil and criminal mastermind, in what is perhaps his best role to date; he does mopey very well, and his completely ineffective Dwayne has plenty of opportunities for that.
Cut Bank is not a great film by any means. It's a modest, direct-to-VOD comedy/thriller with a cast that knows how to have a good time in front of the camera. It doesn't try to be anything more than a solid genre picture, and its refusal to skate by on pedigree alone makes the film prime viewing for an evening when you just feel like escaping for ninety minutes.
★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd
Cut Bank, Montana, is a little town of 3,000, advertised as the coldest place in the U.S. However, this comic caper thriller takes place in late spring; and the setting is anything but frigid. Liam Hemsworth, handsome behind a full beard, is a young man of dubious intelligence, determined to escape the provincial town with his pretty cheerleader girlfriend (Teresa Palmer) and enough money to make it in the big city. So he invents an elaborate, zany scheme to defraud the government of a $100,000 bounty. That's about all I'm going to say about the cleverly hatched plot, from Roberto Patino's script which lingered for years on the "Black List" of admired, but unproduced scripts. This is Coen Bros. territory, reminiscent of Fargo...but even more outlandishly nutty. The film benefits immensely from its cast of seasoned veteran actors: Bruce Dern, Billy Bob Thornton, John Malkovich, Oliver Platt and Michael Stuhlbarg, who all have large roles to play in keeping with their well established movie personae. And it is beyond pleasurable to watch them interact, obviously enjoying themselves. I have a feeling that this film is destined for cult classic stature.
★★★★½ review by Kaci Elizabeth on Letterboxd
"It'd take perfect execution to pull off that ploy and I ain't smart for that."
A story about a small town and the lengths someone might go to get out. And more, of course.
Really loved this.
★★★½ review by Cogerson on Letterboxd
Why I watched this one? Trailers made this look like a second cousin to Fargo...sign me up.
What is this one about? A young man's life is unraveled after witnessing a murder that he filmed in his rural town of Cut Bank.
My thoughts on this one? An enjoyable thriller with an outstanding supporting performances from Mark Stuhlbarg and John Malkovich. I was not as impressed with Liam Hemsworth in the lead role. Bruce Dern and Billy Bob Thornton seemed to be wasted as well. Movie provides some interesting twist and turns. Final thought: This movie could be a second cousin to a Coen Brothers movies....I enjoyed the movie but it far from being a classic.
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