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Movie Review: A Single Shot

October 08, 2013

Sam Rockwell in A SINGLE SHOT distributed by Tribeca Film and Well Go USA Entertainment

If gun is shot in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

A single shot aimed at a lone deer in the woods hits and kills a young woman. The hunter, John Moon (Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths), watches her die and discovers a box of money near her body. In a desperate panic, he takes the cash, hires a low-rent lawyer (William H. Macy, Fargo) specialized in DUI sentencing quirks to fight his wife's (Kelly Reilly, Flight) divorce suit, and attempts to cover up the killing. Moon soon discovers the money belonged to a group of hardened criminals and the hunter becomes the hunted in the backwoods of West Virginia.

“A Single Shot” stars Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs, Joe Anderson, Ophelia Lovibond, Ted Levine, and William H. Macy and is directed by David M. Rosenthal. First and foremost, Eduard Grau’s cinematography was outstanding. Each establishing shot brought me out of the theater and into the backwoods and John Moon’s world. My only complaint was that the film lacks ample dialogue throughout which is not particularly my style. It took about the first 10 minutes for any spoken words. As a result, I did not attach to any particular character and started drifting elsewhere. Had the 2 hour film been tightened up a bit, it would have worked for me. If you have a good two hours available, this movie is for you. As the end neared, it eerily resembled that of the 1993 film “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” albeit a twist which you may or may not be pleased with. Without giving too much away, I was not expecting the ironic outcome.

Director David M. Rosenthal behind the scenes in A SINGLE SHOT distributed by Tribeca Film and Well Go USA Entertainment

Rosenthal was first told about “A Single Shot” at the end of 2010 by Keith Kjarval (Producer), who mentioned he was coming on board to produce the film with Chris Coen. “I had been chomping at the bit to roll film on an atmospheric dramatic thriller like this one. I was stunned by the rich atmospherics and the cinematic quality of the writing. It’s not something you often see in screenplays, as reductionist tendencies often overshadow literary sensibilities. I wanted it to bring visual poetry to the piece and to elevate the scenes of nature to the level of allegory. I loved its’ modern noir tone, classical dramatic structure, and moral ambiguity.”

After culling through earlier drafts of the script and reading the novel by Matt Jones on which the screenplay was based, Rosenthal wanted to be very careful to honor the novel and its heartbeat by working with Jones to put back some of the detail and dialogue and remove elements that worked in the context of the novel but did not fit the film adaption. “The film needed to be brutal, savage, and wild. There needed to be tension in geography and place in the compositions, in the timing nightmarish quality to simple images, disturbing but also lonely and oblique. The place needed to be enshrouded with fog and the woods dark and foreboding. To me, John Moon was traveling deeply into the murky darkness of the unconscious. This kind of tragic tale about greed is wonderful grist for noir novels and films. What’s terrific is that as an audience, we all identify with these choices and mistakes though hopeful on a less lethal scale.”

“A Single Shot” hits the following select theaters on September 20th and is available currently on VOD (Video on Demand).

Los Angeles: NoHo 7 – opens September 20
Phoenix: Shea 14 – opens September 20
San Diego: Gaslamp 15 – opens September 20
Denver: SIE Film Center – opens September 20
New York: Empire 25 – opens September 20
Boston: Boston Common 19 – opens September 20
Chicago: River East 21 – opens September 20
Seattle: Pacific Place – opens September 20
Minneapolis: Eden Prairie – opens September 20
Dallas: Grapevine 30 – opens September 20
Palm Desert: Palme d'Or – opens September 20
Salem, OR: Salem Cinema – opens October 4

You can view the official trailer here:

A Single Shot

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