The Driftless Area

Pierre Hunter, a bartender with unyielding optimism, returns to his tiny hometown after his parents' death. When he falls for the enigmatic Stella, Pierre is unknowingly pulled into a cat-and-mouse game that involves a duffel bag full of cash, a haphazard yet determined criminal, and a mystery that will determine all of their fates. A contemporary fable about the ways we struggle to control time and fate in a possibly predetermined universe.


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  • ★★★½ review by ✨ Felisha ✨ on Letterboxd

    I suppose it's fitting to wrap up my 365 Watchlist Challenge with an Anton Yelchin movie. (I haven't watched one of his movies since his death in 2016. Which left a small group of new/new to me movies that I still need to see.) He was one of my favorite actors and when he died it effected me much more than expected. I don't know if it's a good thing that I didn't cry during The Driftless Area. I put off his filmography in hopes I wouldn't be a shattered mess while watching them. Though it did seem as if the film was going for an emotional reaction.

    This movie was odd and I'm not completely sure I followed the plot very well. I can say that Anton and Alia knocked it out of the park! Each of their scenes together made my heart warm. Hearing his voice again, seeing his smile, and witnessing his talent after such a long absence made me love the movie more. Most of the stars and the 'like' are for him.

    This isn't a perfect movie and I feel as if Zooey's character could have had more layers, along with the mythical side of the plot could have been explained more effectively. I did enjoy it though. For the odd little bit of rural magic that it was. I enjoyed it for the sheer talent of Anton and glow of the cast. I feel with a different cast I may have grown bored during the runtime. All and all I plan to keep it in my collection and give it a try on another day to see if I can soak up more of what the movie attempts to offer.

  • ★★★★ review by Matt Wooldridge on Letterboxd

    I was so impressed with this film back in June I found a copy of the book it's based on and enjoyed reading it almost as much. It's beautifully written by Tom Drury, and it was interesting to see what was on the page that didn't make it to the screen. And different choices made with regard to the supernatural element in the story was interesting to note as well.

    So I inevitably returned to this movie, and knowing what was coming, I was able to absorb the performances more this time around. Yelchin, Deschanel, Shawkat and Hawkes are brilliant in this film. Scenes never feel cliched in any way. There is a natural flow to the dialogue and interactions that makes them all come across as genuine people. And the photography is stunning (though I doubt there will ever be a blu-ray print of this). I love a good movie that explores the unknowns of life and death and purpose. This film does so quietly and eloquently. One of my favourite films of recent years.

  • ★★★★ review by Holibrae581 on Letterboxd

    A philosophical movie with a slow burring story. I highly recommend seeing this film. It asks many questions about life and the life after. This is a "food for thought" movie with a sprinkling of drama and action. I will say that it can be slow at times but not unbearably so. The writer has an interesting way of stringing past and present events together which is a credit to the movie's quality.

  • ★★★★ review by Matt Wooldridge on Letterboxd

    Sadly - I don't think I would have checked this film out if not for the recent tragic event, the loss of Anton Yelchin, this film's lead. Even at the video store I was reluctant to pick it up off the new release shelf, simply based on its basic photoshop cover and the lingering memory of an imdb score that wasn't encouraging.

    Like the deaths of Paul Walker, Robin Williams and Alan Rickman, I was deeply saddened with the news of his passing and was compelled to hunt down the films of his that I hadn't seen. I soon discovered that of the incredible amount of films he's made, there were at least half I had never heard of.

    The Driftless Area was one of them, and I'm so glad I've seen this!

    This film is really one of a kind. The emotional weight of its narrative not really hitting me until the final credits rolled (that's guy talk for 'this film made me cry'). For anyone planning on seeing this, I recommend knowing as little about this film as possible going in, which was my experience. So I'll keep this review short.

    I will say this is beautifully shot, and as a result frustrating to watch on a somewhat pixelated DVD (instead of a blu-ray copy which doesn't appear to exist anywhere). Yelchin, Deschanel, Hawkes, Langella and Shawkat are fantastic - the entire cast firmly grounded in their roles, in a film brilliantly directed and scripted. The dialogue is perfect, skirting tones between thriller, drama and comedy but never in a bad way, with just enough information for the viewer to get by on.

    I had no idea how young Yelchin was. To go at 27 is incredibly sad. But seeing the amount of films he's made within his 16 year career, I'm staggered by the impact he's had, and the volume of films he was a lead in without being a 'name actor'. It's a testament to how good he was - one of the very best of his generation, and this film is easily one of his finest.

  • ★★★★ review by Japeman on Letterboxd

    Hugely reminiscent of The Coen Brothers (especially "Fargo") and peppered with an all-star cast that would be all the rage if this were still 2011, this is a charming and tender, adorkably quirky comic thriller.

    The cast is good and eclectic (and again, if this were made in 2011 this cast would have been even more dynamite) and the ending is an ambiguous enigma that makes us question life itself.

    This is a really good movie.

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