Small Town Murder Songs (2011)
A modern, gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer from a small Ontario Mennonite town who hides a violent past until a local murder upsets the calm of his newly reformed life. -- (C) Official Site
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Critic Reviews for Small Town Murder Songs
... the film is only an hour-and-a-quarter long, and that's just as well; spells are hard to sustain. Yet it's big enough.
"Small Town Murder Songs" moves so deliberately, with such confident authority, that every small event takes on cumulative significance...
Atmospherically steeped in rural noir. . .Stormare's agonized face keeps the focus on more a tormented character study than a mystery. . .greatly heightened by rootsy songs.
Beneath a deceptive calm, it uncovers a core of fear and loathing as ominous as the backwoods world of "Winter's Bone."
Peter Stormare is a limited actor who only manages to exude the resolute nothingness of the role.
The soundtrack ... goes miles toward making what would be an unmanageably dour experience into an acute emotional resonance; the songs are freed to say more than the characters onscreen.
A redemption parable that occasionally finds balladlike lyricism in its biblical solemnity and oddball Lynchian rhythms.
Stormare's performance towers over the flimsy story. Besides the effective ensemble acting, another asset is the outstanding cinematography. This captivatingly haunting crime drama never gets tiresome and knows when to bring the...
A lawman seeking redemption can't seem to escape sin in Ed Gass-Donnelly's haunting, rural drama.
For all that Small Town Murder Songs hints at, there isn't enough delivery here.
STMS succeeds as an Ontario Gothic mood piece, a story of alternately repressed and exploding passion.
While it's easy to admire the unique stylistic accents director Ed Gass-Donnelly fearlessly applies to his northern Ontario murder mystery, it's not so easy to enjoy them.
The force in Stormare's performance is enough to suggest we've witnessed only a fraction of the character's anguish.
...Small Town Murder Songs [features] an oppressively deliberate pace that effectively holds the viewer at arm's length from start to finish...
Rarely does cinema sight and sound mesh as boldly as this, and it's all to the good.
An effective ensemble backed by a bracingly haunting soundtrack strike a compelling chord in this rural Canadian crime drama.
Audience Reviews for Small Town Murder Songs
A small-town Ontario sheriff in a Mennonite community must confront the demons of his past when his ex-lover's boyfriend is the prime suspect of a murder.
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal sums up this film perfectly: the film "moves so deliberately, with such confident authority, that every small event takes on cumulative significance." Yes, but the slowness, or in Morgenstern's words, "deliberateness," of the film weighs on its subject. I think it's easy to know that the film knows where it's going, but that doesn't mean that we always do. And the title cards between the film's chapters are wholly unnecessary and do little to advance the plot or clarify the themes.
Peter Stormare is very good, creating a strong character out of subtle moments, and the rest of the cast rides on his coattails.
Overall, this is a good film, but it's pace can easily drag on the impatient viewer.
if not for the terrible soundtrack i might have even rated this film a half a star higher. the music didnt fit in almost any scene of the entire film. having said that, this is an excellent small budget character study. in some spots the script left some things unsaid, and with a slightly longer running time the film could have fleshed out a few ideas better, but for a 1 hour and 16 minute movie this little crime story delivered extremely well. stormare was very good in the lead.More
FIRST FLIXSTER REVIEW!
I liked this gritty little film. Understated performances all around in a dark and quite depressing story about a town a lot like the one I grew up in, and write bad fiction about... a body turns up, a cop finds it, the trail seems to point to his ex-wife's new boyfriend. Shit, meet fan. Tough and engrossing work, by times cliched or overwrought, but in other times strong for its simplicity. Thank you, Air Canada, for airing Canadian films. I don't know how else I would have wound up seeing this. On the whole, I'm glad I did.
"Small Town Murder Songs" starts with Walter(Peter Stormare), a police chief, being baptized. That cannot prepare him emotionally for the discovery of the dead body of a young woman. At least, Detective Washington(Ari Cohen) arrives from the big city to help out. There is a break in the case when Walter recognizes the voice on the 911 tape as being Rita(Jill Hennessy) which leads to Steve(Stephen Eric McIntyre) who Walter had recently had an altercation with.
The best thing about the otherwise turgid "Small Town Murder Songs" is how much fun it is to watch Peter Stormare inhabit a character very different from the reprobates he usually plays.(Alas, the same cannot be said for Martha Plimpton.) In this story of a man wanting to escape or at least stop talking about his dangerous past, the main character is given a murky backstory while the mystery is simply glossed over. Even with its scant running time, the movie feels stretched to the limit. At least, the songs are cool.
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