“Happiness is overrated.” Val (director Jerrod) wants to die, so he breaks his suicidal buddy Kev (Chris Abbott, both of these guys great) out of psych hospital so they can die together. Kev stalls, says let’s die at the end of the day, and they set out to right some wrongs (beating up Val’s dad, bringing cash to pregnant gf Tiffany Haddish, murdering abusive doctor Henry Winkler), then Val decides to live as they flee the cops. Of course he does – it’s a Sundance movie – but Abbott still gets to die, and the long postscript closing shot is necessary to come down from the tension (similar to Good Time). Won a writing award, nice music by Final Fantasy, and wow, I correctly identified The Free Design on the soundtrack.
No Sudden Move has lost its status as the year’s most grotesque use of a wide-angle lens, courtesy of some Abu Ghraib flashbacks that turn Oscar Isaac and Willem Dafoe into carnival-mirror dwarfs. Isaac served time for torturing the enemy while his superiors stayed free and rich, and a fellow torturer’s son Tye Sheridan tries to rope Isaac into a revenge plot, but Isaac wants to stay cool and quietly win card games using Tiffany Haddish’s money. Nice to see a movie where cooler heads prevail, the kid is set straight and Isaac gets the girl… oh no, that’s not what happens, two people die and Isaac goes back to jail. I can’t decide how I feel about it – the tone felt off, or maybe I just felt weird being at the Grand all by myself, anxiously trying not to expect First Reformed 2.