2014 Running time: 109 Certificate: tbc Not yet rated

Synopsis

Decent family man Bill Scanlin (Wes Bentley) takes a petty criminal route when he's sacked from his job as an insurance assessor for not being tough enough. Pretending to his wife (Vinessa Shaw) that he's still working, he embarks on a minor robbery spree, holding up petrol stations and convenience stores. However, an unlikely friendship with a heavy-drinking cop (Jason Isaacs) forces him to weigh up his real responsibilities. Thoughtful and poignant debut drama from film editor Saar Klein and Undertow writer Joe Conway.

Director

  • Saar Klein

Cast

  • Wes Bentley

  • Jason Isaacs

  • Vinessa Shaw

  • Haley Bennett

  • Sam Trammell

  • W Earl Brown

Review

The things Scanlin does when he loses his job as an insurance investigator are not the sort of things he's used to doing at all.

A conscientious, hard-working dad of two boys and considerate husband to wife Vinessa Shaw, he takes pride in providing for his family - a house with a pool in the New Mexico desert.

However, it's the era of the credit crunch and basic decency isn't an asset when firms are downsizing. Scanlin finds himself out of work when his boss doesn't feel he's being ruthless enough with insurance claims.

Grasping onto his pride, he goes through the empty motions of leaving the house for work but - with the bank threatening foreclosure and his car towed for non-payment - he has to find another source of income.

Unbelievably - even to himself - he holds up a convenience store, spurred on by the boorish manager's bullying of sunny till girl Haley Bennett.

With debt mounting, what he initially thought was a one-up becomes a spree albeit an barely competent one (during a supermarket raid he steals the stockings to go over his face...and triggers a heart attack in an elderly shopper).

At the same time he's struck up a friendship with heavy-drinking detective Frank (Isaacs) who was quietly impressed at a bowling alley when he observed a random act of honesty - Scanlin admitting he's put his foot on the line during a strike.

While no angel, Frank - hardly a respecter of the law - impresses Scanlin with his pragmatic approach...but will it be enough to save him from spiralling out of control?

Debut director Saar Klein, a regular collaborator with Terrence Malick, has created a visually rich morality tale with Bentley impressing as a good man wilting under the weight of his responsibilities.

Co-writer Joe Conway, who penned the underrated Undertow, provides rich dialogue quietly but powerfully delivered by Bentley as - dangerously - he actually begins to relish his life as an outlaw.

It's a subtle comment on modern America's lack of humanity and you can only conclude that - holdups not withstanding - there's not enough chaps out there like Scanlin.


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