‘Cut Bank’: A special preview event

By on March 18, 2015

North Dakota has its “Fargo” and now Montana has “Cut Bank,” a dark tale of unfortunate events in the real-life town known as the coldest spot in the nation. Recently, I got a chance to catch an advance screening of the film due for release on April 3.

The first feature length film by seasoned television director Matt Shakman (“Revenge,” The Good Wife,” “House M.D.”), “Cut Bank” has been a rolling work in progress and was originally slated for a 2014 release. Although principal photography only took 28 days to complete, the film has been tied up in editing and it has obviously been painstakingly poured over to highlight the beauty of the land it has captured (which is kind of deceiving — while the town of Cut Bank is located in northern Montana, the fictional setting was filmed in Edmonton, Canada).

Liam Hemsworth portrays Dwayne, a young man who accidentally films a murder, in the film “Cut Bank,” opening nationwide on April 3.

Liam Hemsworth portrays Dwayne, a young man who accidentally films a murder, in the film “Cut Bank,” opening nationwide on April 3.

In the movie the town is as much a character as the lead players; it’s a sleepy town where most residents are content to be set in their ways. Nothing really wild happens here … until a brutal murder is accidentally filmed by an unsuspecting young couple — Dwayne (Liam Hemsworth, a.k.a. Gale of the “Hunger Games” franchise) and Cassandra (Teresa Palmer, “Warm Bodies”). Dwayne delivers the footage to Cassandra’s father, Big Stan (Billy Bob Thornton), who in turn notifies the town’s venerable sheriff (John Malkovich). The search is on for the killer, but there is no body. The victim — or maybe purported victim — is Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern), the local postman who is a perverted, unhappy man. Since the crime is against a federal employee there is a sizable reward for evidence relating to the crime and Dwayne stands to get the fortune he needs to leave town; he and Cassandra are restless spirits, young and in love. Enter federal adjuster Joe Barrett (Oliver Platt) to procure a death certificate and autopsy results; things get a bit hectic.

Like many good movies, “Cut Bank” has a story within a story and this brings Derby Milton into the mix. Milton, the token psychopath, is a special kind of taxidermist. He lives alone, far away from the main road of life. He stutters around town looking for his “parcel” while the bodies pile up in his wake. Ultimately, the film ends on an original vein as it becomes clear who is “bad” and who is “good” in this pseudo-spaghetti western.

“Cut Bank” has the feel of a film festival darling, but the professional edge of a Hollywood blockbuster. Cinematically, it a beautiful to look at and its star-studded cast piques curiosity. Critically, the movie is taking a lot of slack for being a “Fargo” rip off, which I can understand. I think though, if someone goes into this movie knowing it carries a lot of similarities to “Fargo” (and a lot less jaw-dropping dark humor) it can stand on its own merit. And credit — or at least acknowledgment of familiarity — has to be given to Shakman who directed two episodes of the “Fargo” television series.

“Cut Bank” won the Audience Choice award for Best Feature at the Edmonton International Film Festival and it has more than its fair share of merited actors, but we’ll see if audiences get out to see this movie or not in a few weeks. Stay tuned …

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *