SXSW 2017: “Small Town Crime” Review by Ashley Menzel
Small Town Crime tells the story of Mike (John Hawkes), an alcoholic cop who has lost his badge when he comes across a severely injured woman in the desert. He brings her to a local hospital and sets off to try to find out who did this horrible crime. Mike is not what you would call a successful adult. He messes everything up and causes problems for the police still on the force and for his sister, Kelly (Octavia Spencer) and her husband (Anthony Anderson). He uses his finesse as a former cop to insert himself into the investigation as a private investigation. Quickly, he realizes that the situation he has gotten himself into is much more complicated than he initially thought. The antics that follow are surely crazy, off-beat, and bizarre but absolutely entertaining.
The film strikes a great balance between action and comedy. Hawkes is perfect as Mike, and the role seems so natural to him. All of his lines are perfectly delivered. His comedic timing is spot on and balances the intensity and humor of the role with grace. Octavia Spencer steals every scene that she is in and is a joy to see in a different type of film. The secondary characters, all great in their own respects, only add to the great story. Clifton Collins Jr. as Mood is a fantastic addition to the film. His character is deeper than I initially thought and brought a unique element to the scenes he is in. Robert Forester is a blast as an older no-bullshit grandfather.
The action scenes are intense and perfectly choreographed and shot, giving a real intensity to the film. The shoot out scenes are the perfect length and never feel tedious or become dull.
Small Town Crime is a great film, and much funnier than a lot of people would expect from an indie festival film. The great direction, writing, and performances work well to create an entertaining and engaging film. The Nelms brothers have created gold with this film. I can’t wait to see their next projects and endeavors.