Shimmer Lake is Coen Brothers-lite, yet it aspires to be a film worthy enough to stand beside those famous quirky noirs from the Academy-Award winners. That would require Oren Uziel’s movie to be outrageous, which it isn’t. An unfortunate discovery considering the leads are terrific comedic actors.
Rainn Wilson, Adam Pally, John Michael Higgins, Rob Corddry: why hire these guys if you don’t intend to do anything interesting with them? The performances these actors turn in are fine, but they’re anxious to let a joke out or take a bite out of their role. Pally is especially shafted as a pushover police officer – a thankless task in any movie. Higgins (known for blowhard roles in mainstream comedies) has been given the most material with the best payoff – a shifty mayor with a scandalous secret. But, even he seems to be waiting for something better.
Shimmer Lake is dressed-up mediocrity. It’s riveting enough with its anti-chronological premise (the entire story is told backwards), but the story itself is a basic crime tale of witless characters reaching for the stars in their small town. Scenes are captured by a competent cinematographer, and threaded by a new director who has earned his trust after this debut. The problem is Shimmer Lake makes promises that are beyond its level of modesty – this is why the audience impatiently waits in anticipation and are slightly disappointed when the results are simply efficient.
That said, Shimmer Lake has a wicked third act that is funny with its clumsy characters and surprisingly shocking when tying everything together to make sense out of the beginning. Some key reveals are also featured along the way.
If you’re feeling apprehensive during Shimmer Lake’s adequateness, I advise you to stay for the pivotal bank robbery. The film’s twisty finale justifies just about every doubt you may have about the film. As someone who shared your same underwhelming feelings, I repeat, get your hand’s off the remote control and chill.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie