Small Town Murder Songs Ed Gass-Donnelly

Small Town Murder Songs Ed Gass-Donnelly
A movie that's as strange and unique as its lead actor, Small Town Murder Songs is the kind of film that resolutely sticks to its own pace to tell its story. Starring Peter Stormare, the film chronicles the extent of a small Ontario (mostly Mennonite) community's reaction to the discovery of a slain woman, unknown to any of the locals, and reportedly the first murder on record in the tiny hamlet. Stormare is Walter, the town's police chief, and the murder investigation is filtered through his eyes. Small Town Murder Songs is worth a watch, if only for the fact that it's another great trip into the wacky world of Peter Stormare. Stormare (who first came to prominence as mostly silent thug Gaer Grimsud in Fargo) has carved himself a nice niche of uncharacteristic character roles, adding a dash of "huh?" when directors need a touch of the obscure. Unlike most successful actors, Stormare's strength is largely in the fact that he's difficult to read, an unpredictable variable when the story is a little too straightforward. Storemare brings exactly that to Small Town. His Walter is a strange, strong, silent type, with a hidden, violent past. Exiled from the Mennonite community and his family, he's seemingly risen to the role of police chief through his skills as a peacemaker and mediator, but he's also reduced to an awkward child when federal investigators come in to take over the murder case. Walter's complicated emotional relationship with a former girlfriend (Jill Hennessy) and her new partner (Stephen Eric McIntyre), who becomes the main suspect, is his ultimate undoing. Small Town Murder Songs is the second feature from Toronto director Ed Gass-Donnelly, who embraces a European style and allows his actors plenty of room to breathe. Stormare is comfortable enough to do his thing and the supporting cast in nicely populated with strong turns from Martha Plimpton, Aaron Poole and, in her final role, Jackie Burroughs. While the film ends abruptly, and at a scant 75 minutes, feels rushed and unfinished, Gass-Donnelly and his cast have painted an involving portrait of life inside a bubble. Included among the DVD bonus features are two commentaries – one from the motor-mouthed Gass-Donnelly, who provides plenty of insight into his working method, and one from Stormare, who shares his first time viewing the film with the viewer with often hilarious, casual bemusement. (Kinosmith)