The Oddly Inert Indie Thriller, Don McKay


A strange, largely inert indie thriller, Don McKay has got good bones (inspired by Blood Simple, it has a solid cast and a strong pitch) but a terrible metabolism. Rigorously oblique in form and content, the writing and directing debut of Jake Goldberger follows the trials of the downtrodden title character, played by Thomas Haden Church, as he is pulled back to his hometown after 25 years. Don is summoned by his high school sweetheart, Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), who has made their reunion and marriage her dying wish, but from the cackling cab driver who drops him off to Sonny’s imperious nurse (Melissa Leo, barely recognizable and loving it) and reptilian doctor (James Rebhorn), Goldberger works hard to communicate that something is really off. Playing a janitor who has spent his adult life pining for Sonny, Church wears a look of dazed consternation throughout, and the wonky camera angles and non sequitur exchanges compound what becomes a tiresome impenetrability. There are moments of fine comic blackness—a body count begun early on is played for Coen-esque jollies, and Shue’s flaky femme fatale has her moments—but the energetic revelation of the finale is too much of a relief for Don McKay to deliver it as a reward.

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