(2016, Jeremy Saulnier)
[3.5 out of 5 stars]
A touring punk band is salvaging their existence and take any gig they can get - even if it's at a bar populated by White Supremacists. Like Saulnier's debut BLUE RUIN, characters in this film find themselves in a situation out of their control and beyond their means of fixing. They aren't supercriminals or superheroes. They're ordinary. But they confront an extraordinarily unfortunate situation against people who are capable of things you don't even want to think about.
The band always find themselves where they're not supposed to be whether it's by accident, by choice, or out of desperation. That's clear in the first shot: their car plowed into a crop field with the engine still running and everyone inside, including the driver, asleep. They get themselves out by stealing fuel from parked cars.
Later, during an interview, they talk about their lack of presence in social media. They talk about how the magic of their music is lost when experienced digitally. They refuse to be like everybody else. They play music with vinyl records. They're living in the wrong time and the wrong place.
And then they find themselves in an even worst time and the worst place. They witness an act of violence in the aforementioned bar that lands them in a lot of trouble. The violence escalates very quickly, but it's the first third of the film where we get introduced to the band that is impactful.
Saulnier takes a languid approach, taking its time for us to get used to the group and their world.
Their performance at the bar shot in slow motion with the diegetic music stripped away and replaced by a euphoric score captures an unexpected lyricism. It's nice to have this moment before all hell breaks loose. And boy it does.