Monday, June 12, 2017

Shimmer Lake: Movie Review


Atmosphere and comedy hold together backwards crime drama.

Shimmer Lake has a great atmosphere and an intriguing sense that an interesting mystery is unfolding. It starts on Friday only giving hints as to what happened. Then progressing backwards through the week, providing further clues, and a few dead bodies, to show how it all went down. It takes most of that time to produce a coherent crime drama and the comedic casting makes it difficult to strike the right tone; however, by the end, you have watched a funny, interesting crime drama best told in reverse. 2017

Directed by: Oren Uziel

Screenplay by: Oren Uziel

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson

The setting: it’s a small town where everybody knows each other and all played football together in high school, and a crime has been committed where the prime suspects are known, and related to the town’s Sheriff. It’s dark and gloomy, raining for most of it, but combine that with an undercurrent of comedy, and I was a big fan of the atmosphere and setting for the film.

The crime is attempted to be unravelled by Benjamin Walker as Sheriff Zeke Sikes. His partner is Adam Pally. That sentence should be written like that as Adam Pally’s character is pretty insignificant and he could very well just be playing himself – a good-natured doofus who has the occasional funny line and is not held in high esteem by the others. I generally really like Pally but this role is nothing to write home about. There are also two FBI agents: Rob Corddry and Ron Livingston. Both were fantastic as they managed to strike the perfect comedic tone for the film while maintaining that interesting atmosphere. That balance between comedy and crime drama proved to be quite difficult for the film to maintain and the casting directors who found the perfect actors, and then Livingston and Corddry for pulling it off, need to be congratulated.

Images courtesy of Netflix.
The initial backwards unravelling of the crime can be quite confusing – there only appears to be a point when it's funny, and since the audience doesn't yet really know how or which of the characters are involved, their actions don’t make a lot of sense. The quick pacing of the film is a blessing, otherwise it would have been difficult to get through the middle section.

Luckily it does all add up together. When we finally get to the beginning of the week, and the crime is about to go down, everything that had unfolded earlier makes more sense and is funnier – and interestingly, there’s still a lot to piece together. The ending shows a strong film noir influence on the movie, and mixed with a more modern indie comedy style, Shimmer Lake does eventually pull it off.