(UK/France/US - 2017)
Directed by Evan Katz. Written by Evan Katz and Macon Blair. Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Robert Forster, Jacki Weaver, Gary Cole, Molly Parker, Macon Blair, Pat Healy, Michael Kinney, Daniela Sandiford, Shawn Lawrence, Larry Fessenden, Tara Yelland. (Unrated, 95 mins)
Based on a 2008 novel by Dave Zeltserman, the Netflix Original film SMALL CRIMES belongs to that ever-growing post-BLUE RUIN subgenre where names like Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair keep turning up (you could also lump BAD TURN WORSE in there, even though it was made by others). Saulnier (GREEN ROOM) isn't involved in SMALL CRIMES, but Blair is, as a co-writer and co-star, just a couple of months after his excellent I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE also bowed as a Netflix Original. Shot in Quebec but set in small-town America, SMALL CRIMES recalls BLUE RUIN more than the visceral horrors of GREEN ROOM or the Coen Bros. aura of the misanthropic I DON'T FEEL AT HOME,. It's more of a character study centered on Joe Denton (GAME OF THRONES' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a disgraced ex-cop who can't stay out of trouble. Dubbed the "Slash Cop" by the local press after a knife attack that left current District Attorney Phil Coakley (Michael Kinney) with significant scarring, Joe has just been paroled after six years in prison, during which time his wife took their two daughters, changed their last names, moved far away, and got a restraining order against her ex-husband. Once he's out, everyone seems to be lining up for revenge, from Coakley's seductive daughter (Daniela Sandiford) to his former partner Lt. Dan Pleasant (Gary Cole), who reminds him that they have some unfinished business. On the take before he was sent to jail, Joe had a side job with Pleasant on the payroll of mob boss Manny Vassey (Shawn Lawrence). Manny is on his deathbed in the last stages of colon cancer, but he's been subpoenaed to testify to a grand jury by Coakley. Coakley wants to reopen the investigation into the mysterious "suicide" of a cop who was about to expose Joe and Pleasant's corrupt dealings with Manny, who wants to clear his conscience before he dies. Pleasant tells Joe he needs to whack Manny to kill Coakley's case and make amends for all the trouble he caused him, and once that's done, he'll see about getting him in contact with his daughters, since he's owed a favor by a family court judge he helped cover up a fatal hit-and-run. But killing Manny in a matter of a few days proves virtually impossible, as he's under constant protection by his men and his empire is being run by his hot-tempered, idiot son Junior (Pat Healy), who warns Joe to stay away.