We’ve all seen the way it ends for people with daddy issues. Just look at Neil Perry in Dead Poet’s Society. Overbearing father threw him over the edge. Star Wars’ Luke Sywalker felt the brunt of paternal abandonment – and hand loss. Even Stephen Spielberg admits his father woes led to the inspiration behind flicks such as, E.T. and Indiana Jones.
Family dysfunction is the name of the game here in this neo-noir indie film set in the snowy blizzard background of Northern Michigan. Siblings, Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are on the run after a Casino heist goes bad. They make a pact tomeet at the Canadian border. Tension laced with incestuous undertones makes for a gripping opener. Then suddenly the pair splits, and so does the narrative, in athree-part, full speed descent.
Addison, part demon, part “angel” is intent on keeping up his side of the bargain:to meet his little sister at any cost, even if it means embarking on a killing spree(including the disposal of one particularly abusive step-father) and risking somesloshy socks in the process.
Meanwhile, Liza is very likely to die of hypothermia until she is rescued by Jay(Charlie Hunnam) a former boxing champ, ex-con whose issues with his own father,Chet (Kris Kristofferson) threaten to unhinge him.
But that’s nothing compared to Hanna, the local sheriff’s daughter (Kate Mara)whose pursuit of Addison is made all the more difficult by her sexist father, who churns out the insults faster than a white-tail deer in headlights.
Three families under the spotlight, sounds like an efficient group therapy session.Problem is squeezing all that post-parental analysis into 94 minutes is a stretch.
While there are glimmers of hope (anytime that Jays’ parents, played by Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek appear) and some exciting snowmobile chases, Ruzowitzky comes up short.
Cue some add-water-and-stir thriller ingredients: death, sex and then more death and suddenly Ruzowitzky – realizing he’s out of time – stitches all the narratives into a final Thanksgiving dinner show-down. Forget the snow-storm outside – it’s a shitstorm inside. Only problem is, by then, it’s a little tough to care.
Good for: Those who are boycotting three-hour films and are hankering for an instant thriller, to go.
Starring: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, 94mins
Review by Anna Tsekouras