We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
A beautifully shot, well acted and suspenseful teenage noir starring Mackenzie Davis
This feature debut of brothers Zeke and Simon Hawkins sets out its smalltown Texan noir ambitions early, with college-bound teenager Sue (rising star Mackenzie Davis, from That Awkward Moment) pointedly quoting pulp thriller writer Jim Thompson in a conversation with smitten best friend Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) over biscuits and gravy: 'There are 32 ways to tell a story but there is only one plot – that things are not what they seem'. Shortly afterwards, Sue's not-too-smart boyfriend BJ (Logan Huffman) arrives and the trio quickly find themselves forced into committing a heist, as a result of BJ stealing from vicious local gangster Giff (Mark Pellegrino).
The idea of a film noir plot with teenaged protagonists is an inspired one (it paid similar dividends in Rian Johnson's Brick), helped considerably by Jeremy Allen White's remarkable resemblance to a young Robert Mitchum (the fact that his character is named Bobby is surely a homage). All three leads are superb, sparking complex, edgy chemistry, with BJ resentful of Sue and Bobby preparing to head for college and leave him behind. Similarly, Pellegrino exudes a dangerous charisma as Giff and has a disarming way with words that gives him a perverse likeability, even as he's making life hell for the three protagonists.
The Hawkins Brothers keep things moving at a decent pace over its efficient 90 minute running time, generating a suitably tense atmosphere throughout. They also pull off an enjoyably imaginative set-piece where BJ is outlining the heist and we see it unfold on screen and assume it's happening for real, only for the characters to turn to camera and question the details of the plan. In addition, the film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Jeff Bierman, who invests the film with a strong sense of place, heightened by Jonathan Keevil's acoustic guitar-based soundtrack.
Screening at Cineworld, Edinburgh, Fri 20 Jun & Odeon Lothian Road, Edinburgh, Sun 22 Jun, as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.