Cut Bank Blu-ray Review
It’s easy to draw comparisons to the Coen Brother’s FARGO within the first 10 minutes of CUT BANK. It has a specific tone and layered nuance as we follow mailman Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern). He’s dirty, crusty and visual radiates a foul smell. He spies on area high school cheerleaders and looks disgusted at the kindness of others on his mail route. But his crass appearing life is about to come to an end.
In a golden sun drenched field, Cassandra (Palmer) is rehearsing for an upcoming beauty pageant for Dwayne’s (Hemsworth) camera. While it may seem like cowtown aspirations, both of them want to legitimately leave behind their lives in Cut Bank. Winning the beauty pageant will provide them the money to get out of town. While recording his girlfriend, Georgie rolls up in his vehicle in the background during this small video rehearsal. He’s shot in cold blood by a masked stranger. Cassandra and Dwayne are unsure about what they’ve just witnessed, but it sets off an intriguing series of events.
After this shocking act, CUT BANK adds a multitude of characters into the mix, with their own secretive motives, but equally convoluted connections to one another. There’s the town’s sheriff, Sheriff Vogel (John Malkovich), who plays a sometimes clueless man hoping to solve the murder. Then there’s Cassandra’s father, and Dwayne’s Boss, Big Stan Steely (Thorton), who has a suspicious, but undeveloped backstory with Sheriff Vogel. Then there’s a creepy taxidermist, Derby Milton (Michael Stuhlbarg), who gravitates towards the group and the murder. But surprise, Georgie isn’t dead. And that’s just another subplot that’s you can throw on to the heap. The real piece that sets off everything is a package that never gets delivered to Milton because of Georgie’s supposed death.
Stuhlbarg is very effective as the town recluse who is meticulous with his taxidermy art. He seems innocent to the entire town despite radiating serial killer vibes and exhibiting the strength of someone participating in the world’s strongest man competition. Because he’s so distraught about his mysterious package, he solves the town’s first “murder” before our alleged sheriff can. Of course the sheriff has to abide by the law; Milton has to get his way through violent means and killing those in his way.
To say that Milton’s character is the best part about this movie is an understatement. The movie gravitates towards Dwayne, who’s not the most interesting of characters, nor is he played by one of the best actors in the movie. With such a unique and well versed cast, Hemsworth seems drastically out of place. When someone has to be the centerpiece to a hodgepodge of oddities, he needs to be able to carry that knowledge with a unique dramatic heft. Instead Hemsworth appears confused and lost in the face of much better performers.
Scenes between Dern and Stuhlbarg or Thorton and Malkovich are some of the film’s highlights. Those scenes alone are worthy. It just seems odd that the movie would try and wrap this entire bizarre story around the pedestrian story of Cassandra and Dwayne. Inherently, they’re innocents caught up in a peculiar mess. With so much implied backstory to everyone else, it seems like a waste to follow the two least interesting people.
CUT BANK is a gorgeous movie with an equally stellar soundtrack. It finds itself having a lot of fun when it mixes its disquieting soundtrack and dread filled visual cues. Technical merits and acting alone, it’s well done. CUT BANK has hard time propelling forward with Hemsworth as the lead, but when it focuses on everyone else, it does make some leaps and bounds to catch up and provide a satisfactory bit of entertainment.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) This is a movie that was shot on film and at times that’s clear as signs of grain surface. But there’s a charm to that affect along with the fact that shooting this movie on film for many gorgeous scenes to explode with vibrant color.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) This is a problem’s free soundtrack, with a perfect balance between dialogue and the movie’s soundtrack.
Audio Commentary with Director Matt Shakman and Writer Roberto Patino: Sounds two like two old friends getting together to talk about their works. They do a decent job shedding light on some of the questions left behind by this movie.
Bad Karma: Life in CUT BANK (18:52): Offers a lot of interviews with cast and crew, but nothing too interesting. This feature feels fairly routine.
Deleted Scenes (3:36): These are three scenes that you can play all at once or separately. None of these feel essential to the story, but only seem to add a bit of atmosphere to the town and characters.
Extended Scenes (2:03): There are two scenes that you can play separately or together. It seems like both scenes had some simplistic trimming for story flow purposes.