Billy Bob Thornton again showcases his talent for playing any combination of redneck and authority figure in this 2002 sleeper. While he plays Billy, Patricia Arquette supports ably (as ever) in her role of a stripper’s wife searching for her husband’s murderer.
It’s the middle of the night and a running figure derails a truck full of shoes. When first light shows the wreck, the discovery of the running girl sporting a bullethole in her back suddenly turns this simple crash into a murder investigation. As town sheriff, Billy Bob enlists the help of Patricia when she comes looking for her husband (the girl with the bullethole who actually sports both genitalia), and before long he’s up to his neck in the world of transsexuals, transvestites, strippers and gay clubs.
While all this is going on Billy Bob’s superiors are trying their hardest to cover up something about that night and get him fired. Their ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ is in the vicinity of the area and the fact they had the Governor there on the night in question means there are deeper levels to this investigation than at first appeared. Or are there...?
As a rental goes, this one is pretty entertaining, with a good working relationship between Arquette and Thornton that is almost worth watching the film for alone. Thomas Haden Church also appears in a subplot between Billy and his brother and it’s always good to see him in work after being away so long from his memorable role of Ned in Ned and Stacey.
While being a mostly solid visual affair, there are moments here of grain in the night scenes and indoor darknesses. Happily these scenes don’t occur too often, but neither are they occasional. There is also a big burst of what I call ‘fairydust’ at 46:04 that is a surprise for such a recent film.
There are occasional continuity errors here as well, though these are but minor infractions of the filmmaking code, although the flashbacks aren’t always necessary to remind us of earlier events in the film. In this regard, the film is a little too obvious in the telling sometimes and can be deemed either helpful or treating the audience like idiots. This one’s your call.
Dialogue is fine throughout and well understood and the sound effects are also fairly compact and neat. Music is the highlight of this film’s audio landscape, however, with some ongoing and snappy music track usage that really sets the style of particular scenes or a character’s mood. This doubles as the score for most of the film, although what score is used is along the same southern style with a haunting inflection.
Our only extra here is presented in the 4:3 ratio. This is a trailer running for 2:23 which is a common practice on a rental, though by no means the norm.
Overall, I’d say this one is well worth checking out, as Thornton and Arquette are their usual dependable selves taking their roles seriously. The story is an interesting one, even if the ending is a little disappointing with plenty of red herrings thrown about to fill out the intrigue nicely.