TIFF ’10: Day 7 ~ Small Town Murder Songs

The last festival film I attended (the festival closes today) was on late Friday night, and featured a raucous crowd for the Canadian film Small Town Murder Songs. Adding to the festivities was the director, who was half in the bag, but still coherent and insightful. Ed Gass-Donnnelly scripted and directed this film about a small town and a murder, with songs dividing the film into chapters. Wonder how he settled on the title?

Filmed in a mostly Mennonite rural community near Toronto, Walter (Peter Stormare, The Big Lebowski among many other supporting parts) delivers a repressed, brooding performance as the local law enforcement official who lives with his waitress girlfriend (remember Martha Plimpton? Good to see er again). Plimpton, older, plumper, and presumably wiser, does a killer Fargo impression. She’s fascinating to watch (and listen to). Walter is in a life long struggle to repress his naturally volatile nature, and here he temporarily loses the struggle. It’s understandable, what with the pressures from his father and the Mennonite community, the townspeople, and higher law enforcement authorities. The matter is complicated by the fact that his former lover is living with the prime suspect in the murder of a young dancer-prostitute.

Not a great film by any means, but solid and entertaining. Nice soundtrack (Bruce Peninsula).

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