Tuesday, 1 July 2014

REVIEW - COLD IN JULY (JIM MICKLE)


The excuse that the novel did it, so why shouldn't the movie, doesn't have much traction with me, but if you're gonna make a mess of your movie then why not? In hindsight, it's clear that Cold in July intends to be taken as cheap pulp, more stylised than stylish, and veering erratically between genres, moods and plotlines. It's a ploy that forgives the film's manic character, which itself forgives the few (among many) tangents the story takes a notion to that come off as director Jim Mickle trying too hard. Yet it is doing an otherwise promising film an injustice, as if to make the most of a spoiled situation, when so much of it is so far from spoiled at all. Mickle's talent for atmosphere and his affable attention to detail are put to brilliant use in Cold in July's first tonal stop-off, a tense revenge thriller with promising shades of a sins-of-the-father subtext. And who can resist a good old twist? The plot thickens, and Cold in July begins to resemble a solid modern noir, like David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. That is until Mickle loses control - not of his craft, just of his sense of reasoning. Cold in July takes so long to fully exploit its true nature as a haphazard, artistic B-movie that it's only in the final few scenes that one actually realises it. The impact of the first act is such that the rest of the film can only wither in comparison. Perhaps this is why the climactic sequence is such a barnstormer, or perhaps it's just that Mickle has finally given into the type of movie he truly wanted Cold in July to be. Or maybe he wanted it to be a mess, the mess that he made of it. Well, why not?