×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Single Shot

"A Single Shot" aims to serve up gritty backwoods noir but misses its target by some distance.

With:
John Moon - Sam Rockwell
Simon - Jeffrey Wright
Pitt - William H. Macy
Jess - Kelly Reilly
Waylon - Jason Isaacs
Obadiah - Joe Anderson
Abbie - Ophelia Lovibond
Puffy - W. Earl Brown
Cecil - Ted Levine
Carla - Amy Sloan
Colette - Jenica Bergere
Mincy - Heather Lind
Dead Girl Ingrid - Christie Burke

A Single Shot” aims to serve up gritty backwoods noir but misses its target by some distance. Although this yarn about the violent repercussions triggered by an accidental shooting boasts a strong cast on paper, including Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Wright and William H. Macy, it’s marred by cliches bred in its wintry bones by Matthew F. Jones’ adaptation of his own novel, not helped by hackneyed helming from David S. Rosenthal (“Janie Jones”). Basically genre pulp with so-so moments, “Shot” should see some action in ancillary but has limited theatrical prospects and looks out of place on the fest circuit.

Although it was lensed in the mountains near Vancouver, the film is unclearly about where it’s supposed to be set; the redneck accents suggest somewhere vaguely Southern. Not exactly rocking a scruffy mountain-man beard and a thousand-yard stare, Rockwell stars as John Moon, whose family literally lost the farm some time ago. Hard times have taken their toll on his marriage to pretty but sketchily drawn waitress Jess (Kelly Reilly, the first of many Brits in the cast here showing off hours spent with a dialect coach), whose taken their toddler son to live in town, leaving Moon alone in a dilapidated trailer up in the woods.

While out illicitly hunting deer one day, Moon accidentally shoots and kills a young woman (Christie Burke), apparently a runaway, with the titular single shot. Presumably worried that the circumstances will land him in jail after a string of citations for poaching, Moon chooses to hide the body rather than notify the authorities, especially when he finds a big ole box of cash hidden at the girl’s campsite.

Clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Moon draws attention to himself when he starts spreading his new wealth around town, first with a slimy local lawyer (Macy, hamming it up with a comic toupee and false teeth) whom he retains to handle his divorce, and then later when he tries to drop off a wad of cash for Jess. There he meets skeevy ex-con Obadiah (Joe Anderson), shagging the babysitter (Amy Sloan) while Moon’s son sleeps, and the ominously hirsute Waylon (Jason Isaacs), who will prove to be the major nemesis later on.

At times, the film does a reasonably good job of evoking the claustrophobia of recession-hit rural communities, where everyone knows everyone else’s business and prospects are limited to back-breaking farm work, service-industry labor and crime. But Rosenthal seems more interested in auditioning for future employment on TV procedurals than in exploring sociology, and attempts to establish atmosphere via heavy-handed use of misty landscapes and creepy noises. Indeed, it’s never hard to tell when something bad is about to happen, given the frequency with which Atli Orvarsson’s score cranks up the discordant string section of doom.

Unfortunately, the film is notably lacking in suspense, partly due to a lopsided script that suddenly has to cram in a bunch of explication via a dreadful monologue delivered by Wright, overacting painfully as Moon’s booze-soaked best bud. Elsewhere, there are characters mentioned but never met, and weakly defined relationships that suggest a lot of script tinkering or cutting-room triage happened along the way. The uneven performances from such a potentially strong cast may be the result of what was reportedly a long and troubled pre-production phase (thesps previously attached to the project include Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Forest Whitaker). British actress Ophelia Lovibond at least perks things up as a hapless good girl caught in the crossfire.

Even lenser Eduard Grau, who won plaudits for his eye-catching visuals on “A Single Man,” brings his B-game here with a palette of grays and sludge tones that looked overly dingy at the digital screening reviewed.

A Single Shot

U.S.-U.K.-Canada

Production: A Bron Studios, Unified Pictures, Unanimous Entertainment production in association with Media House Capital, Demarest Films, Visionary Pictures of a Coen, Kjarval, Gilbert production. (International sales: Inferno Entertainment, Los Angeles.) Produced by Keith Kjarval, Chris Coen, Aaron Gilbert, Jeff Rice. Executive producers, David M Rosenthal, Sam Rockwell, Matthew F. Jones, Joseph Wright, Ellen Wright, Raju Hariharan, Patrick Murray, John Raymonds, Sean Thomas, William D. Johnson, Sam Englebardt, Michael Lambert. Co-producers, Margot Hand, Katie Goodson-Thomas, Mary Vernieu, Akshaii Hariharan, John Brooks Klingenbeck, Kurt Rauer. Co-executive producers, Ben Ruffman, Steve Goldstein, Bianca Mead-Spadaro, Billy Wirth, Doug Min. Directed by David S. Rosenthal. Screenplay, Matthew F. Jones, based on his novel.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Eduard Grau; editor, Dan Robinson; music, Atli Orvarsson; music supervisor, Dan Wilcox; production designer, David Brisbin; art director, Cheryl Marion; set decorator, Joshua Plaw; costume designer, Beverly Wowchuck; sound (Dolby Digital), Bernard "Six" Costa; sound designer, Roland Heap; re-recording mixers, Kelly Cole, Bill Mellow, Graeme Hughes; visual effects supervisor, Geoffery Antony; visual effects, GFZ Studios; stunt coordinator, Jody Stecyk; line producer, Ian Smith; associate producer, Mike Valva, Donna Valva; assistant director, Matthias Mellinghaus; casting, Mary Vernieu, Venus Kanani. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 8, 2013. Running time: 116 MIN.

With: John Moon - Sam Rockwell
Simon - Jeffrey Wright
Pitt - William H. Macy
Jess - Kelly Reilly
Waylon - Jason Isaacs
Obadiah - Joe Anderson
Abbie - Ophelia Lovibond
Puffy - W. Earl Brown
Cecil - Ted Levine
Carla - Amy Sloan
Colette - Jenica Bergere
Mincy - Heather Lind
Dead Girl Ingrid - Christie Burke(English dialogue)

More Film

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Sued for Home Video Profits by 'Young Doctors in Love' Writer

    Disney is facing a class-action lawsuit from the screenwriter of the 1982 hospital parody “Young Doctors in Love,” who alleges that the studio has withheld millions in home video revenue. Michael Elias filed the suit on Dec. 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court. His attorney, Neville Johnson, filed similar class-action lawsuits against six other studios [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    Richard E. Grant Makes the Most of His Screen Time

    Richard E. Grant is so memorable in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” that it’s a shock to realize he’s only in a fraction of the film. Fox Searchlight’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”centers on biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) when she is broke and desperate, and begins forging celebrity letters. Israel has encounters with multiple [...]

  • Wonder Woman

    Movies Starring Women Outperform Male-Led Titles at Box Office, Study Finds

    Female-led movies outperformed male-led titles at the worldwide box office during the 2014-17 period, a study released Tuesday showed. Creative Artists Agency and technology company Shift7 said that the analysis found that female-led films outperformed male-led films at all budget levels. The study grew out of the Time’s Up movement in a collaboration aiming to [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film Review: 'Aquaman'

    Aquaman isn’t like the other DC Comics superheroes, so it seems only right that his big-screen solo show should have a personality all its own — which, in the hands of “Furious 7” director James Wan, it does. Gone is the Aryan-looking Atlantean in green-and-orange spandex, replaced with a bare-chested Hawaiian super-stud with long, shaggy [...]

  • Issa Rae

    Issa Rae, Columbia Sign Multi-Picture Production Deal Promoting Diverse Screenwriters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Issa Rae’s production company, ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. The pact is unique in that under the agreement, ColorCreative will work with and back projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters. The move comes as the entertainment industry is under pressure to develop films and shows that feature underrepresented talent both in [...]

  • VR studio Baobab Crow The Legend

    Animators Embrace VR as 'Age of Sail' and 'Crow' Make Audience Inroads

    Virtual reality has been making inroads in the entertainment business for several years, but 2018 has been an especially big one for animated projects. This year, there are at least two VR-animated shorts vying for Oscar nominations: Google Spotlight Stories’ “Age of Sail” and Baobab Studios’ “Crow: The Legend.” Disney has created its first VR [...]

  • Thomas Vinterberg Kursk

    Les Arcs Festival Launches Talent Village Under Thomas Vinterberg's Patronage

    Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, Les Arcs Industry Village is launching the Talent Village, a new development workshop and platform for emerging talents which will be under the patronage of Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (“The Hunt”). Kicking off on Dec. 12 and hosted at the Cinéfabrique Film school in Lyon, the workshop will take place [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content