" Can you bring me a very heavy stone? A kind of lumpy squarish one. "
— Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

MRQE Top Critic

Muscle Shoals

Even if the Muscle Shoals sound isn't on your iPod, you'll like seeing where it came from —Marty Mapes (review...)

Etta sings in Muscle Shoals

Sponsored links

For a while, I thought Cold in July was going to be a thriller with something more on its mind than pouring a heaping mound of pulp over an oft-visited thriller landscape.

Shepard and Johnson liven up the proceedings
Shepard and Johnson liven up the proceedings

Michael C. Hall plays Richard Dane, a Texas father who shoots an intruder (Dane’s trigger finger slips) during a middle-of-the-night burglary. Dane is torn by feelings of guilt and fear, particularly when a man claiming to be the father of the dead intruder (Sam Shepard) shows up seeking revenge. Director Jim Mickle, who co-wrote the screenplay with Nick Damici from a novel by Joe R. Landsdale, puts lots of intriguing elements in play, but increasingly tilts the movie toward outrageous plotting, Texas color (a la the Coen Brothers) and a disconcertingly violent conclusion.

Still, the movie features fine acting — not only from Hall and Shepard, but from Don Johnson who shows up as a quirky private detective who also runs a pig farm. Vinessa Shaw has a nice small turn as Dane’s wife, Ann. There’s plenty to admire here, but an over-the-top shoot-em-up finale offers the easiest (and least rewarding) sort of satisfaction.