Villains

This is the type of fun I wish you could have at the movies more often. It might not be Citizen Kane or Pulp Fiction, but you have a blast watching it. Speaking of Pulp Fiction, I give my wife props for saying early on, “This is like that dumb couple in the beginning of Pulp Fiction, with Tim Roth…robbing the diner, but they ended up stumbling into a David Lynch movie.”

I had already been thinking more David Lynch (a Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet vibe), and I did think Tarantino, but I was thinking the couple in True Romance. But enough about those two bizarre filmmakers. We should talk about the young men that wrote and directed this– 

Dan Berk (The Stakelander) and Robert Olsen (Body), who gave us a splendid, bloody dark comedy.

Mickey and Jules (even the names sound like characters out of a noir picture from decades ago) rob a gas station. It’s the best opening robbery in a movie since The Family Fang.

These bumbling idiots are played by Bill Skarsgard (who doesn’t wear a clown mask from IT, but a rubber animal mask) and Maika Monroe (the professional kiteboarder, who has done a few films, including the horror flick It Follows). They run out of gas right after their robbery, so they walk to a big house (not the “big house”) to steal some wheels. Yet when the homeowners return unexpectedly, the plot thickens. As do the pools of blood around the house.

This couple provides the best performance you might see from a pair of actors this year. 

Jeffrey Donovan (Sicario) wears blazers and ascots, while talking very proper, with a genial and sarcastic, slight southern drawl. 

Kyra Sedgwick plays his wife Gloria, who if this film was a bigger production, would be getting an Oscar nomination. At times, she seems like a character out of the Stepford Wives. Other times, she channels Kathy Bates in Misery. Her facial expressions, as she goes from joy to anger (while placing a hand on someone’s jeans to see if…they might be into her)…is terrific.

It’s fun how you soon find yourself rooting for the criminals that started the movie. They show they’re not as stupid as we initially thought, and they’re even rather romantic with each other. A few times we see them do a “car wash,” where she lets her hair flow over his face and they look into each others’ eyes (it reminded me of a moment Ethan Hawke had a few times in First Reformed with a woman he cared about). Another time, when Mickey is being seduced by Gloria, who is wearing a wig, corset, and looking like a flapper from the ‘30s while playing an old record on a phonograph (Joe Biden would love that)…he thinks of Jules to help him get through the experience.

There are great set designs and costumes, and the macabre elements are sprinkled with just enough dark humor. 

Sometimes the tone is a bit inconsistent, and the 3rd act was frustrating because characters make idiotic decisions that nobody would have made. That’s always frustrating. But it wins me back by ending with interesting closing credits that looked like an old ‘60s Fillmore concert poster on acid, with the terrific Courtney Barnett song “Pedestrian at Best.”

I’ll end the review with some lyrics from that tune:

I must confess, I’ve made a mess/of what should be a small success

But I digress, at least I’ve tried my very best, I guess

This, that, the other/why even bother?

It won’t be with me on my deathbed/but I’ll still be in your head.

 

Yep. And this will be in my head for a few weeks.

3 ½ stars out of 5.

 

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