David M. Rosenthal
While out one morning poaching, John (Sam Rockwell) accidentally lands a bullet in a young woman. While trying to hide the body, he comes across a box filled with cash. It’s not long before a collection of bad characters, including Obadiah (Joe Anderson) and Waylon (Jason Isaacs) come looking.
John needs the money. As he reminds his ex-wife (Kelly Reilly)—and the audience, who he’s really talking to, because the dialogue is just that expository—“You moved out with my son…the day after I lost my job.” But no one in town cares much about that except for John and his best friend, a slurring drunk named Simon (Jeffrey Wright). Also in the mix is a lawyer named Pitt (William H. Macy), who turns up at just the right time to remind the audience that John is too broke to be paying with cash like that.
Director David M. Rosenthal’s (Janie Jones) second feature, A Single Shot, has plenty of characters but gives them nothing of substance to do—the bad guys snarl and make threats, while John sticks around town being haunted by the girl he shot and just waiting for the toughs to make his life even worse. John seems to have no interest in being one of the men Matthew F. Jones (who also penned the novel on which the movie is based) wrote him as.
A Single Shot was apparently inspired by the films of the Coen Bros. and film noirs of decades past. It so desperately wants to be mentioned in the same breath that the movie gets caught up creating too much atmosphere (or rather what it thinks qualifies) and not enough story or character. A Single Shot is too long and moves too slowly for the amount of plot and character development it has.
Of note, as always, is Rockwell, who doesn’t seem like the go-to choice for this sort of character but still manages to be the only commendable part of a bad movie.
Interviews: Both Sam Rockwell (23:25) and William H. Macy (6:41) sit down for one-on-one interviews to discuss the story, the style and their characters.