The U.S. Postal Service is the Tom Cruise of postal services—easy to mock, consistently taken for granted despite relatively solid work, suffering mightily since the advent of the Internet, but somehow, still standing, grinning into the very forceful wind of negative public opinion. This (brilliant) analogy falls apart at some point, though: Unlike Cruise (for now…), the USPS is dying a very slow and protracted death, and we’ve all got a front-row seat to the action. Perhaps this is the underlying metaphor in Cut Bank, a forthcoming thriller in which a strapping young lad with a digital camera accidentally films the murder of a local mailman. Or perhaps I’ve just taken way too many English classes, and it’s just a straightforward, Coen brothers-esque thriller about small-town crime. Who’s to say?
In the first few moments of Cut Bank’s new trailer, Dwayne McLaren (Liam Hemsworth) and his girlfriend Cassandra (Teresa Palmer), both bizarrely attractive people who are desperate to escape their low-key lives in Cut Bank, Minnesota, are filming some kind of Real World-esque audition tape in the middle of a prairie. As Cassandra cheerfully explains that Cut Bank is “surrounded by miles and miles of wheat and canola fields,” a local mailman is shot to death behind her head, and Dwayne catches the whole thing on tape. Convenient! He takes the tape to the local sheriff (who is, of course, John Malkovich), and is soon on track to nab a $100,000 reward for contributing evidence. But before he can collect the money—which he describes to Cassandra as a “lifetime sum” (sure, for a lifetime of eating Ramen and drinking off-brand soda)—there’s a snag in his plan: Nobody can find the mailman’s body. (Because the USPS isn’t really dead yet, you guys. There’s still hope! Is this metaphor working for you yet, or…?)
More importantly, as all of this nonsense is going down, nobody’s getting their mail. Understandably, everybody’s upset about it—one shaken-up dude in particular (Michael Stuhlbarg) is going around town choking everyone, asking for his “p-p-p-parcel.” See, if we stand idly by and watch the untimely death of the USPS, we’ll end up embroiled in a back-country get-rich-quick scheme gone wrong. Or something. Here’s the trailer:
The trail of the tape
Director: Matt Shakman
Screenwriter: Roberto Patino
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton, Teresa Palmer, Oliver Platt, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern
Release date: Feb. 26 on DirecTV, April 3 in limited release
The entire trailer in one line of dialogue: “Of all the places you can point a camera, you point it at a money-making crime.”
The entire trailer in one screengrab:
Cut Bank premiered to mediocre reviews at 2014’s Toronto International Film Festival, but I’m getting some good Fargo and Blood Simple vibes from this trailer—it looks like a sharp small-town noir that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Now go give your mailman a hug.