(US - 2017)
Written and directed by Oren Uziel. Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, John Michael Higgins, Ron Livingston, Rob Corddry, Wyatt Russell, Adam Pally, Mark Rendall, Matt Landry, Isabel Dove, Angela Vint, Neil Whitely, Julie Khaner. (Unrated, 86 mins)
With screenwriting credits on 22 JUMP STREET and the awful horror spoof FREAKS OF NATURE, one wouldn't think Oren Uziel would make his directing debut by branching out with a Coen Bros. knockoff, but the Netflix Original SHIMMER LAKE isn't bad despite hinging on a gimmicky set-up. Set in the days following a botched bank robbery in a small rural town, SHIMMER LAKE plays in reverse, starting on Friday when everything has fallen apart and ending on Tuesday, the day of the robbery. It's like an arc of the FX series FARGO if showrunner Noah Hawley gave it the MEMENTO treatment (this reverse set-up was also done quite well earlier this year in the little-seen western BRIMSTONE). By the end, it's little more than smoke and mirrors to cover up a story that wouldn't be all that interesting or even remotely clever if told in a straight chronological fashion. Indeed, it often requires clumsy exposition to get the viewer up to speed, as in an early scene taking place on Friday where the sheriff is talking to FBI agents and drops this cumbersome chestnut: "We'll see if it matters when we find Andy's--my brother's--dead body!" If they're looking for Andy and have obviously already been working together, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the FBI guys already know that Andy is his brother? Nobody would say that sentence like that unless they were characters in a story being told in reverse.