Overall Grade: (B-)
A uniquely fresh story-line that gives you much more then you will anticipate with some nice twists and an odd collection of characters.
If you like a nice moody mystery thriller then “Cut Bank” may be right up your alley. The cast is surprisingly good. Other then Hollywood veterans John Malkovich and Billy Bob Thornton, who as usual deliver enjoyable performances, the rest of the cast also bring their talents to the table. Bruce Dern was great as the mailman the films plot centers around. He delivered a brash and realistic portrayal and gave this film a true veteran trio with Thornton and Malkovich.
Not to be forgotten Liam Hemsworth in the lead who continues to show that he is the best actor of his brothers. He delivered the role in perfect form for this script and managed to bring all the needed emotion to pull off the man his character was to represent. Often the youngest Hemsworth gets beaten up for his acting chops, or lack of, but in this performance I felt he fit the character, and was believable enough to not hinder the film in any way. Plus he was surrounded by great actors and shared the screen-time for the most part so despite being the star of the film he didn’t have to carry it.
Despite these cast members additions to this film, as well as a fun yet smaller role for Oliver Platt, Michael Stuhlbarg was by far (for me) the most compelling performer in this mystery. As the mysterious and odd Derby Milton, Stuhlbarg captures the role with perfection and as the course of the film progresses and his role expands so does the entertainment this moody piece gives you.
The premise of the story-line feels relatively fresh which is good for building interest in the plot, the characters and course the story will take. There are times you think you can guess what will happen but one of the strong aspects of this film was the unpredictability. While the main theme of the film plays out there was a nice subplot that slowly evolves as well. In the final act these two story-lines collide and the result was fun and captivating.
The beautifully bleak setting of this film also add a vibe to the story where you can really feel the desperation in the characters who want to leave, as well as the remorse of those who had not. All of this adds a nice fuel to the direction the story follows and it gives off a sense of realism that help make this film more enjoyable. Pacing in this one was on the slow side but it fit perfectly with the locations, and the ‘no rush’ way of life people in the town lived.
All of these elements molded greatly to make a fun and surprisingly entertaining mystery where you are hanging on every scene to see how it will play out towards the end. “Cut Bank” is a nice blend of “No Country for Old Men” splashed heavily with some “Fargo”. The characters are odd and unique and the quirky story-line that creates their actions keeps you guessing, not so much on the final outcome, but the path the filmmakers will take to get there.