Making a Killing
dir Devin Hume
scr Jamie Pelz, Devin Hume
prd Devin Hume, Seth Tonk, Jamie Pelz, Bruce Robinson
with Michael Jai White, Mike Starr, Jude Moran, Aida Turturro, Christopher Lloyd, Sally Kirkland, Jack Forcinito, Joe Berryman, Andy Kastelic, David Midthunder, Jesi Mandagaran, Tait Fletcher
release US 10.Aug.18
18/Canada 1h47
Making a Killing
On the case: White and Forcinito

turturro lloyd kirkland
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Making a Killing Based on a true story, this complex crime thriller echoes the Coen brothers in its blackly comical approach to a twisted narrative and messy people. Filmmaker Devin Hume patiently constructs a compelling central mystery, finding strong character detail and playing around with extraordinary things that really happened. What emerges is a kind of deranged modern-day Western populated by people who have no idea what they might do next.

In small-town New Mexico, mayor/priest/mortician Arthur (Starr) and his brother Vincent (Moran) are planning to sell a buried treasure of rare coins and move to Alaska before their cohort Mickey (Lloyd) gets out of prison. But their timing is a bit off, and now Mickey wants his money. Then a murder draws the attention of state investigator Orlando (White), who immediately clashes with the local police chief (Forcinito). Clearly Orlando won't be able to wrap this case up as quickly as he had hoped, but he's enjoying the challenge.

There are all kinds of colourful characters swirling around in this story, including Mickey's loyal employee (Kirkland), a sardonic cafe owner (Turturro) with a crush on Vincen, and a Native American thug (Midthunder) who wants Arthur to dispose of a body in exchange for his help. Each person has his or her own issues, all of which feed into the central plotline. They push each other in directions that make everything that happens increasingly complicated. And Hume lets every scene play out in an unnervingly realistic way.

Each of the characters bristles with life, making their conversations edgy and unpredictable. The actors have a great time playing with the detailed characterisations, as all of these people are unsettled, impulsive and very funny. White adds some superbly relaxed swagger as the wryly observant outsider in a town full of people who are acting very, very guilty. Both Starr and Moran are likeable opportunists, down-home boys who never seem to grasp the gravity of their dodgy actions.

Because these are real events, they don't unfold in the expected ways, which makes this an unusually engaging thriller. The setting, a town where nothing like this ever happens, evokes familiar feelings of security threatened by the unexpected. So watching Orlando navigate his way through this sea of self-interested, paranoid people is both intriguing and hilarious, making clever comments about human nature. Frankly, it's a little too easy to identify with each of these flawed characters and their hope against all hope.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 6.Aug.18

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