Movie Review: A Single Shot is one to see
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Writers: Matthew F. Jones (novel), Matthew F. Jones (screenplay)
Stars: Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Kelly Reilly
Synopsis: The tragic death of a beautiful young girl starts a tense and atmospheric game of cat and mouse between hunter John Moon and the hardened backwater criminals out for his blood.
David Rosenthal’s A Single Shot is a pretty typical cat and mouse chase thriller but there are several elements that do stand out well. For one, he gets really great performances which I’ll get into in a minute. The aesthetic he creates is also very fitting as well. As John Moon (Sam Rockwell) is hunting in the woods, you feel the rawness of the nature landscape and the camera explores them well. The pace is really slow but given the nature of the story it’s actually what the movie calls for. You can say the same for how Rosenthal uses the score too. The movie is a little dirty and raw but keeps you on the edge.
The script here isn’t anything we haven’t seen before but as I argue, it’s not the originality that’s the issue but how we get to the end The story centers around John Moon who is struggling to keep his family but can barely take care of himself. He goes hunting in the woods, which he knows well, to kill some deer for food when he accident shoots and kills a young girl. When he traces her whereabouts, he finds a big stack of cash, which of course he takes which leads to our fun cat and mouse game. The beginning is set up well and we learn a lot about Moon and how much he loves his family despite his lack of future security. Some of the “bad guys” subplots are unnecessary and draw away from the film but it does lead to a really great ending sequence. Moon is put in a position where he has to make some critical decisions and the resolutions finds its’ way back to Moon’s beginnings which was really incredible. While on the surface, the story isn’t new, there are elements that make the story thrilling and give it depth thus making the journey engaging even if you’ve seen some of this before.
Sam Rockwell is incredible. He’s on fire this year and brings a lot to his character of John Moon. He’s a country boy with emotional baggage that has to deal with the age ole drama of finding a big money back and should he give it back. But his character is much deeper than that and you see that in Rockwell’s performance. In my opinion, he’s a big reason the character is likable and you root for him. William H. Macy is a bigger name here but a lesser role and he’s fine but not outstanding. Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo and Ophelia Lovibond are strong here and give great performances as well.
Atli Örvarsson, one of my favorite composers, does the score it and it’s anything but exciting. The score is grim and dark but is exactly what this movie calls for. It’s slow, stringy but adds a good element to the thrilling moments of the film. While I’d rathers see Örvarsson do a fun themed score this is still good for what this movie is.