Monday, February 1, 2010

"Don McKay" dark fun with too many twists

Don McKay (2009) 
90 min., rated R.
Grade: B

The kooky, oddball Coen Brothers-esque neo-noir, "Don McKay" (alternately titled "Moment of Truth"), starts as a Norman Rockwell picaresque shaken up with a little violence and dark secrets, finally ending as Norman Bates. 

Both a serious and single man, the hapless, browbeaten school janitor of the title (Thomas Haden Church) receives a letter from his old flame Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), who claims to be dying and wants him to come back to his hometown after 25 years and comfort her during her final days. You just know going in that nothing is what it seems and that everyone's hiding something, maybe even Don himself. 

As writer-director, Jake Goldberger's feature film is crisp-looking and deliciously acted. The cast is a pleasure to watch: Shue is loopy, sensuous, willfully needy as the flytrap-blonde; Melissa Leo is a hoot as the disapproving, buttoned-down caretaker; and paying attention to the Coens' "Blood Simple," M. Emmet Walsh is amusingly cast as a cabby. 

Even as the silly, mechanical plot twists boil over and nearly crumble the whole enterprise, "Don McKay" is still dark, twisty fun.

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