Sam Rockwell is one of Hollywood's most underrated actors and he shows why that's the case again in "A Single Shot," a rural, neo-noir thriller that slowly pulls the viewer under its veil of mystery.
Rockwell is John Moon, a down-on-his-luck former farmer somewhere in the American hinterland (the film was actually shot in Vancouver) for whom things never go right. His wife took their young son and left because Moon can't keep steady work. He survives by poaching animals in restricted areas.
Things get worse when, while out hunting bear, he accidentally kills a young woman. While figuring out what to do with her, he discovers she's in possession of stacks of money. Hide the body, keep the moolah, get back with the wife, sounds like a plan, right?
Well, then the harassment starts. Someone knows what he's done. Someone's watching Moon but who? Is it his wife's low-rent divorce lawyer (William H. Macy), his best buddy (Jeffrey Wright), the town bad-boy just out of prison (Joe Anderson), or someone else?
Director David M. Rosenthal, working from a script by Matthew F. Jones (based on his novel), doesn't reveal anything too quickly (there's not a word of dialogue for nearly the first 15 minutes of the film). And there are some spots where things drag as A Single Shot nears the two-hour mark.
But there's something gripping in the way Rosenthal and Jones slowly reveal the layers of troubled life in this small town, and the way that Rockwell plays as a man on the verge of losing everything. Maybe, one of these days, Hollywood will recognize his worth.