“Cold in July” is the first film that Michael C. Hall has starred in following his tremendous performance as “Dexter”. In addition, Sam Shepard appears as a Texan out for revenge for his ex-con son who has disappeared. But neither of these fine actors can save this movie.
The story is convoluted and the twists for “film noir” are not easy to follow nor complete as the plot’s arc. A husband and wife, sleeping at night in Texas in 1989, are disturbed by the noise of a burglar. Soon after killing the culprit, Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) is hailed as a hero, much to his discomfort. Wracked with guilt, Richard travels to the cemetery of the man he shot, where he runs into the deceased’s father, Ben Russell (Sam Shepard), who is not too happy someone shot his lowlife son in the face. Richard’s life soon spirals down as Ben seeks revenge for the death of his son Freddy.
Given that the story is based upon a novel by Joe R. Lansdale (of the Elmore Leonard genre), I thought the drama would be tightly wound with secrets and lies revealed with sufficient backstory for motivation. Instead of the story unfolding between the two main characters, we are taken to a few violent series of actions, some of which are completely unconnected and unnecessary: sadomasochistic horrific scenes of young women.
I do not flinch at violence, if there is a reason for it and if the story moves forward. “Cold in July” is simply exposing the underbelly of violence towards women (as well as those committing that violence) with no narrative support to understand motive or reasons for the damages inflicted. Worse yet, the unrealistic series of coincidences and leaps in logic left this viewer’s head spinning and hoping the movie would end soon. But it didn’t end soon enough! So, so disappointing with two major actors who did their best with very little to work with!
“Cold in July” is not rated, but features graphic violence, language and disturbing images. It may leave you cold as well.