“I found the mix of comedy and drama to be masterful, as well as the story being told to be engaging and intense.”
When Shimmer Lake started I was a little confused a to what I had gotten myself into. The movie wasn’t bad, it was just different. Some parts made me laugh, but I wasn’t sure if they were intentionally funny or if I was just finding humour in things to pass the time. As the film went on however, I started to warm up to the tone that it was presenting. For those who don’t know, Shimmer Lake is a film that follows the aftermath of a bank robbery, and the small-town sheriff that has to find the suspects; one of whom is his own brother. Shimmer Lake manages to strike a beautiful balance of drama and comedy, really making sure to nail aspects from both sides of that spectrum. It really is a talent when a movie can have me emotionally invested in a story, and at the same time make me laugh my ass off whenever it wants. Honestly the best way for me to describe Shimmer Lake would be to say that it is like a good Coen Brothers movie. You’ve got everything you would find in something like Fargo: A small town? Check. A story based around crime? Check. Characters that aren’t stupid, but they’re far from smart? Absolutely check. All of these things come together to create what is one of the most entertaining experiences I have had watching a movie in a while.
One thing that really made the film work in my opinion were the performances given throughout. Shimmer Lake takes place in a small town, and all of the performances really sold that fact. Actors did a great job of emulating history between characters, and that really shined through in scenes where you could tell there was some real inner-conflict about what these characters were going to do. Sorry if that sounded vague, I just don’t want to spoil the movie. But this sense of community that was emulated wonderfully really brought this town to life, and you believed that these people really do have a history. Another thing I really appreciated in the movie is the actors ability to deliver both dramatic, and comedic performances. It’s not easy to be funny (or so I’m told), but these guys seemingly did it with ease. Of course for veterans like Rainn Wilson I’m sure it wasn’t too hard, but there were some people in there who I didn’t recognize that did a great job a well. People like Benjamin Walker, Adam Pally, and Mark Rendall all do amazing jobs with he comedy aspects of this script. Like I mentioned these actors also do a great job with the dramatic portions as well, especially people like Rainn Wilson who I’ve never really seen do any dramatic acting. Once again this pure talent really added to the film and my immersion because the scenarios felt so real.
On to my next point of praise for Shimmer Lake, the film’s non-linear storytelling. Shimmer Lake has a story that is told in a very interesting way: each “chapter” of the movie is one day before the last chapter. So essentially the story is being told in reverse. This is not a new concept, but the way that it was executed was almost perfect to me. The way Shimmer Lake tells its story allows for a lot of things to grow over the course of the film. First of all, there are jokes that evolve as each day passes. For instance maybe one day a character would make a reference, it’s funny but a little strange; by the time you get to the “next” (previous) day, you understand what that reference was all about and now that joke is fucking hilarious. But this doesn’t just play well for jokes, but also for other parts of the story as well. For instance, I liked the way that the characters evolved over the course of the film (well, really our perception of the characters evolved throughout the course of the film) by them showing us more and more of their motivations. Just as an example there was one character who I thought was an okay guy, but then some information came out later that made me think maybe he’s not so great, and then by the end of the film I hated him. This adds a really interesting dynamic to the story because if it was told traditionally I would have hated this character form the start and in turn wouldn’t have been as invested in the story. This method of telling the story also allowed for a few “moments of clarity” if you would, that presented themselves as more of the story was revealed. I won’t say more because I really don’t want to spoil anything.
Overall Shimmer Lake was a very entertaining movie. I found the mix of comedy and drama to be masterful, as well as the story being told to be engaging and intense. On top of all of this the performances were great and really sold the “small town” feel that the film was going for.
I give Shimmer Lake an A