Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Film Review: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (2014)

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place poster

Texas is a violent place.  It doesn’t matter whether you form your opinions through current affairs and broadcast news, or gritty cinema; there is clearly a lot of violence in Texas.

Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) is a high school graduate about to fulfill his dream of escaping the rural farmland and heading to the big city with his best friend Sue (Mackenzie Davis), whom he secretly loves.  The only problem is that Sue is dating his other best friend B.J. (Logan Huffman), who is being left behind to work on the farm with the aggressive thug Giff (Mark Pellegrino).

Before they go away, B.J. convinces his two friends to travel to Mexico for a last big holiday.  Only when they return home he admits that he stole the money to pay for it from Giff.  When Giff finds out (in an amazingly tense scene) he tells them that they must steal from local racketeers in order to pay him back.  B.J. then concocts a ‘foolproof’ plan that comes under strain when he suspects his two friends of hiding a secret from him… 

The Texas that is depicted onscreen fits alongside a number of nouveaux-cowboy noir-thrillers set in the rural South such as Shotgun Stories, The Killer Inside Me and more recently Cold in July.  They all have the similar colour pallete of sun bleached sepia and cold blues, the same drunken violence and the same small-town criminal networks of armed thugs.

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

At the heart of the film there is a juxtaposition between the cultured metropolitan ambition of Sue and Bobby, expressed through their love of literature and interest in higher education, and the primitive and rural B.J. and Giff who are labourers of the land and are never going to leave the small town.  Amongst the cruel violence that plays out on screen, the film has a clear moral hierarchy that favours one group over the other.

There is also another binary at work towards the later stages of the film in amongst the organized criminals as the principle gangster clashes with the amoral thug.  Another familiar suggestion that brains beats brawn.

Some of the motifs are heavily borrowed from early Tarantino, especially the pop-culture conversations in the diner and the retro credits from the beginning, but the by the end a clear individuality has emerged from the family team of Zeke and Simon Hawkins.

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival, opens in cinema on the 15th August and is on DVD 8th September

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