Alberta again stands in for Montana, perhaps not as one hundred percent successfully as is often the case but enough to make me believe I was seeing Montana  —  at least while watching the film.  Cut Bank , more than it is anything else, is a murder mystery.  Rather, a murder story because it is the kind of mystery in which the reader or viewer knows who done it with the fun coming in how others, especially the police, find out.  Within the first half hour, though, Cut Bank has three bowl-me-over surprises; and I lost count after those three.  Two of those three are visual surprises, delivered by the camera.

A few years ago I would have written that Cut Bank is ABOUT the violence living beneath the surface of a small Montana town or, perhaps, a small western town.  Today I am tended to write that we are watching in Cut Bank the violence lurking in any American town?  Any human heart?

I cannot remember a plot hinging as this one does  on how the postal service operates.  James Cain’s postman is not really a postman, is he?  Oh, there’s Il Postino, though.  And Letters to Juliet.  Maybe there are many others.  Can my readers advise?

Michael Stuhlbarg

Michael Stuhlbarg

Bruce Dern and Billy Bob Thornton are very good.   So is Oliver Platt as a foul-mouthed visiting postal official.  John Malkovich, who has gotten past playing a great actor playing the role and is back to playing the role, is excellent as the local sheriff who NO ONE calls by his first name.  And Michael Stuhlberg as Dewey Milton is THE supporting actor of the year ignored by all last year’s award givers.  Teresa Palmer and Liam Hemsworth are decorative (and believable) as the romantic leads.

This is a well-paced, well-acted indie with a lot to say about human nature and the fact that all local cultural mores have not been McDonalized and Wal-Martized and reality-televized.

Matt Shakman
written by Roberto Patino

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

FOR NORTHEAST OHIOANS.  The Nightlight in Akron, Ohio is showing Akron on September 11 at 7:30 and on September 12 at 7:00.

The photograph of Michael Stuhlbarg is from Adobe public domain pictures.


Until then, let’s get out and go to the movies;
See you there,

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