Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch; Split) star as Amanda and Lily, estranged childhood friends who reconnect in unusual circumstances.
“When you put people in extreme situations,” says Jeremy Saulnier, “it can be scary, or tragically pathetic, or even funny to watch them flail and try to acclimate.”
Blue Ruin, Saulnier’s Kickstarter-aided 2013 calling card, managed to ring the cherries on all of the options above, fashioning a diabolically inventive revenge movie that repeatedly headed down unpredictably satisfying avenues. The writer/director’s larger-budgeted follow-up, Green Room, gathers up that earlier promise and just goes sick with it, taking an intentionally stripped-down premise and jacking it up to ferocious speeds. As ruthlessly pedal-through-the-floor efficient as it is, the narrative also manages to find space for the director’s growing assortment of decidedly unheroic heroes—who somehow remain weirdly endearing while their hastily thought-out plans fall to bloody pieces. “What I do,” says Saulnier, “is revel in the details and minutia that bog people down. I account for ineptitude.”
The ghosts from a school shooting hover over the otherwise Sundance-y story of Rudderless, a low-boil drama directed by the actor William H. Macy. The shooting is left offscreen, and the bulk of the film takes place two years later, the sorrow still fresh in the mind of our central character. This is Sam (Billy Crudup), whose son died in the college killing. Once a go-getter of an advertising man, Sam has dropped out; he lives on his boat on an Oklahoma lake and paints houses. Grief leads him to transcribe the songs his late son was writing, and when he performs a tune at an open-mike night, a 21-year-old musician named Quentin (Anton Yelchin, the Chekov from the Star Trek reboot) gets excited about the music. Maybe they should start a band? As antisocial as Sam is, this process will drag him back to the stage—but he doesn’t tell anybody the songs were written by his son, a secret we suspect will detonate at a key moment.