Written and directed by Scott Caan
THINKFilm, opens June 24, Village East
Sporting a geographically resonant title as dubious signifier of Amerindie authenticity, Scott Caan’s Dallas 362 never actually makes it to Dallas; unlike the recent Milwaukee, Minnesota, character-driven drama trumps regional atmospherics. Flailing for an escape from a hazy existence of alcohol, fistfights, and low-level thuggery, 24-year-old Rusty (Shawn Hatosy) finds himself drifting apart from longtime best friend Dallas (Caan), still preoccupied with getting wasted and planning risky “big-time small-time” moneymaking schemes. The movie’s been labeled “semi-autobiographical” and, the occasional beer commercial moment notwithstanding, Dallas 362 feels at home in the overgrown boys’ world of dingy apartments and smoky pool halls, its spirited first half alternating hell-raising adrenaline rushes with (relatively) sober flashes of remorse.
If the emotional bond between Rusty and his restless widowed mother (Kelly Lynch) ends up displacing the ostensibly central Rusty-Dallas relationship, it’s partly because Caan the actor lacks the charisma to make the Dallas character work. As a director he occasionally falls prey to the rookie mistake of excessive crosscutting, fragmenting the dramatic momentum created by his fine cast—Lynch aches with quiet middle-aged desperation and Hatosy tempers Rusty’s soulful sensitivity with an edge of all-American, man’s man virility (he recently played a young John McCain in a TV movie). Jeff Goldblum is hilarious as a stoner therapist who’s simultaneously counseling Rusty and dating his mom, but his wildly improbable character is all too typical of the contrived plotting and reductive psychology that propel the script to its inevitable conclusion. JOSHUA LAND