No segue. I didn’t even know this movie was being made. Probably for good reason, as it looks incredibly indie.
The story looks like it’s about… I have no idea. Just a group of friends with a dark secret, I guess. Probably killed a dude for… reasons.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mike C. Nelson (1 episode of AGENTS OF SHIELD [2013 – ongoing]), Jenni Melear (1 episode of NEW GIRL [2011 – 2018]), David McCracken (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Napoleon Ryan (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is co-star, David McCracken, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Aaron Riedford, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Sean McDaniel, known for. Finally, the editor is Kevin Del Colle, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of.
Overall, I think this movie is going to be… I have no idea. I have zero expectations going in. Here’s hoping.
This is my honest opinion of: BULLITT COUNTY
Set in Kentucky, circa 1977. Gordie (Mike C. Nelson), Robin (Jenni Melear), and Keaton (David McCracken) have been friends for more than ten years, but lost contact at some point. But now, on the eve of Gordie’s engagement, the friends have reunited back in their hometown of Bullitt County for a Bourbon run. When things don’t pan out in their favor, Gordie learns of a legendary “Bullitt County Treasure” of millions of dollars buried out in the woods, allegedly protected by homicidal hillbillies. Without much coaxing, Gordie convinces his friends to go out and hunt for that treasure.
You know what? This movie surprised me in a positive way. A true, well-paced tragedy.
I feel like lately I’ve been ragging on movies for jumping guns in character motivations and not enough build-up to eventual downfalls. This movie is what I’ve got in mind when it does that downward spiral properly. From the moment we are introduced to Gordie, everything is generalized, as it should be. He, Robin, and Keaton are all old friends and happy to see each other. Got it, established. But then, we get something new by way of Gordie looking at Robin in a longing way. Got that too, he has a thing for her. We now know that Robin is going to be Gordie’s romantic interest. But as the minutes go by, we get kernels of new information. Whenever Keaton and Robin are talking, it’s clear that Gordie either isn’t comfortable, or is otherwise jealous of their connection. Then an asshole hits on her, Gordie flips out and puts a knife to his throat, now we get even more information. Noble as his intentions were, we took things way too far, thereby making Robin upset. It’s not like we completely disapprove of his actions, it’s not like any man who cares about a woman doesn’t want to make it clear to assholes that no means no, but it’s definitely an overreaction to essentially threaten someone’s life. Point is, we still don’t quite know what to make of Gordie. He does apologize, make a little light of the situation with legit humor and charm, but not exactly out of the dog house, so to speak. As the story progresses, we learn more about Gordie and there’s a constant tug-o-war between having explanations for his behavior, and deeper dives into his darker side. You see what I’m getting at? The proverbial cards aren’t all on the table as the game begins, nor are they drawn out. The script is so expertly crafted that it knows when to drop a new droplet of information and how to drop it to insight a different reaction from the audience, making Gordie a near pitch-perfect candidate for a complex and interesting character.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ More than just great character writing, at least one technical aspect deserves credit, and that’s the cinematography. Right after Gordie kills the old man (Richard Riehle) and blood has splattered all over both Robin and Keaton, there’s this wonderful long shot of Keaton sitting down in a chair looking disturbed, while his friends are freaking out through a window behind him. The words are pretty muffled, but I thought this was one of the best shots in the entire movie. Wonderful direction and framing. ] <<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>>
<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ One would think that this would actually hurt the movie a little, but shockingly, the movie’s eventual predictability actually works in its favor. Like when the old lady (Dorothy Lyman) is about to be killed off by Robin. The gun goes off, we see Robin drag a human shaped bag out of the barn, but… here’s the thing, the movie hadn’t been shy about violence by this point. As such, I sort of see right through this trick of the edit. I figured the old woman didn’t actually die and lo and behold, she’s the one who ultimately kills Gordie. The same went for Wayne throughout the film. Something about him being on screen never felt right, in my mind. At first, I thought he was just a bland-ass character who was closer to wallpaper than anything. He barely says anything to anyone, he’s barely acknowledged at all, the hallmarks of bad character writing. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe that was a subtle part of Wayne’s function in the story. After awhile, I thought… huh, Wayne’s not real, is he? Turns out, nope, he’s not. He legitimately is a figment of Gordie’s imagination. When I called it out, I really wanted to be right, and I totally was. Once again, an obviously good twist and explains so much. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
But doom and gloom aside, there’s still a very human element to the characters. I really enjoy hanging out with them and seeing them interact with one another. They’re funny, charming, give each other shit, but also support one another.
About the closest thing to a problem that I had with this movie was the constant use of the screen dividers. You know, giving the movie a comic book panel kind of aesthetic. I want to say that this is more or less a reference to… well, comic books as the main characters are all references to Batman characters, Gordie being James Gordon, Robin, Wayne, named after Bruce Wayne, and Keaton named after Batman actor Michael Keaton. Still, more often than not, it was a distraction, not a welcomed artistic choice. Perhaps it was meant to save on individual quick cuts, but I think the movie would have been fine without them.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ While I can sympathize with the weight that Gordie’s been carrying with him since the night he killed Wayne, I really didn’t agree with a particular scene where the score almost tried to tell me that I needed to sympathize with him. His actions nearly throughout the flick are pretty irredeemable. Trying to kill his friends, sexually assaulting Robin, none of the score should be making Gordie out like he’s some kind of tragic hero. Really sticks out in my mind and really hated that. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, I would say that the movie is staggeringly good for as unremarkable as it looked from the trailer. I may have an issue or two, but they hardly cripple the flick from everything that it did right. Brilliant character development, a dash of good cinematography, among other reasons, this is one of the better films of the year. As a recommendation, I highly endorse this. It’s a very indie film, so finding it may be challenging, but if you see it in theaters, check it out.
My honest rating for BULLITT COUNTY: a strong 4/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews:
- BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
- BOY ERASED
- THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS
- NOBODY’S FOOL
- A PRIVATE WAR