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film review

Twists make ‘July’ more than one-on-one duel

Friday, June 6, 2014
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Michael C. Hall is the family man next door pushed to a violent edge in “Cold in July,” a gritty, sweaty and entertaining little slice of Texas noir.

Hall is Richard Dane, a quiet East Texan whose life is turned upside down after he shoots and kills an unarmed intruder in his home. Not long after, Russel (Sam Shepard), a flinty ex-con just recently released from prison, shows up with murder on his mind because he thinks the man that a sorrowful Hall shot was his son.

'Cold in July'

DIRECTED BY: Jim Mickle

STARRING: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson and Vinessa Shaw

RATED: R GRADE: B+

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

At first, it seems as if “Cold in July” is going to be just a cat-and-mouse game with Dane increasingly channeling his inner Clint Eastwood to protect his family and fend off a vengeful dad.

But there’s a hint of the nefarious going on in this small town and director/co-writer Jim Mickle and writer Nick Damici, working from a novel by Joe R. Landsdale, have more on their in minds than a simple chase. The film blossoms into something a little more complex.

Hall is a wise choice as an everyday guy taken to an extreme, as is Don Johnson as a flashy, countrified private detective who’s key to unlocking some secrets.

Mickle juggles a variety of horror, detective and B-movie tropes to come up with something that’s more surprising than it first appears. Ultimately, “Cold in July” is easy to warm up to.

 
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