Starring Aaron Douglas, Shaun Johnston, David LeReaney, Chantal Perron, Karen Ryan, Brady Roberts, Kevin Doree, Stafford Perry, and Jesse Lipscombe
Directed by Matt Watterworth
Written by Kevin Doree
Unrated, but contains scenes of coarse language, sex, and violence
Runtime: 91 minutes
Available on Prime and Apple TV on Friday, Jan. 29, as well as on NFB.ca
There are some crime movies that are so entrenched in their realistically grimy worlds that they make you feel like you need a shower afterward. Others take the genre and run with the gauntlet into far more parodic territory.
But then there are some that play both sides of the fence: they know just enough to depict nefarious, untrustworthy characters with guns, guns and more guns, but they also not to take themselves too seriously. Even though their subject matter might be gritty, grimy and hardboiled, they can still have fun with it. They have a particular brand of edge with just a touch of ludicrousness to let you, the viewer, know that it’s still just a movie and that they’re in on the fun, too.
Welcome to In Plainview, where disgraced cops, hired mercenaries, ex-lovers with a grudge and even the hotel clerk are armed, dangerous and borderline campy comedians.
The story follows Penner (Aaron Douglas), an ex-cop out to get back against his former partner Rand (Stafford Perry) – AKA the one who got him caught. Helping Penner out on his quest is dishonourably discharged military man Lupus (St. Albert's Jesse Lipscombe). On her own mission is for Penner’s loot is Rand’s ex, Wynter (Chantal Perron), who has her own agenda.
There’s a fine cast of gritty characters there, and I haven’t yet introduced you to Reverend Rickman (Edmonton great Shaun Johnston) who has one hand on the bible, but only one. You still need one finger to pull a trigger, I’m guessing.
They all want their version of justice and a nice stash of cash to go with it. To do all that, they’re all greedily willing and shadily able to lie, cheat and steal, and shoot. Don’t forget the shooting; they sure won’t.
I have a particular fondness for these low budget potboilers with dialogue that has obviously been crafted but not totally finessed, acting that works functionally but doesn’t need to sweep you off your feet, and scenes that show hardened characters doing some occasionally offbeat things. Some of the things they do are very funny and it’s tough to say whether it’s always intentional or just a by-product of all the factors – low budget being among them – that contributed to the process.
I especially enjoyed watching Lipscombe and Douglas chew through their scenes with as much gusto that they could muster without making it too campy. This is meant to be slightly more serious than pure camp, but not so serious that you can't revel in all the delightfully debauched scoundrels making a mess of such a nice little town as Plainview. I think that a metric ton of credit should be given to screenwriter Kevin Doree and director Matt Watterworth for pulling this heist off, plus I can't wait for their next film, a crime comedy called Jonesin’. Sounds like the perfect partnership for such a project.