(director/writer: Shane Atkinson; cinematographer: Mingjue Hu; editor: Sebastian Mialik; music: Rim Laurens, Delphine, Malaussena, Clement Peiffer; cast: Steve Zahn (Skip), John Magaro (Ray), Brad Leland (Adam Ledoux), Megan Stevenson (Stacy-Lynn), Dylan Baker (Harry), Galadriel Stineman (Angie), Matthew Del Negro (Junior), Bob Clendenin (Ben Finney), Darcy Shean (Midge Ledoux); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sebastien Aubert, Jeremie Guiraud, John Magaro, Caddy Vanasirikul, Elly Senger-Weiss; Adastra Films, Brainstorm Media, Elly Films; 2023-USA/France)

“Zany Coen brothers-like comedy thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Shane Atkinson is the first time feature film director and writer of this neo-noir, zany Coen brothers-like comedy thriller, armed with an hilarious dead-pan humor.

The handsome Ray (John Magaro) is a sad-sack drip, who dwells in the unexciting but corrupt Texas town of LaRoy, living an empty life. He loves being married to his prom beauty queen wife Stacy-Lynn (Megan Stevenson), who openly detests him. But he becomes suicidal when he learns she’s having an affair with his big brother Junior (Matthew Del Negro), who runs with him the family hardware business.
Ray learns of his cheating wife through nude photos of her in her motel romps when he meets Skip (Steve Zahn), an amateur who poses as a real private eye, who he meets in a greasy diner. Skip and Ray shake hands on forming a devious partnership, whereby they make plans of finding a way Ray can buy his wife a beauty salon she always craved so he can win her back.

But the distraught Ray instead buys a gun and sits in his car at a parking lot, waving his gun, ready to commit suicide. At this time, Ray is mistaken by a stranger for a hit-man and accepts a bag of money to retrieve the money a local lawyer stole and then to execute him.

The hit Ray has been asked to carry out turns out to be just part of a larger criminal conspiracy that he and Skip investigate.

The actual hit-man is the dorky looking but sinister Harry (Dylan Baker), who trails the loser who took his job and money, and has plans to deal with him when he’s ready to. Baker’s uncanny scene-stealer performance is the highlight of this film gem.

REVIEWED ON 5/20/2024  GRADE: B+