July 2, 2019  (Web Review)

A Violent Separation

Screen Media, 106 min., not rated, DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99, July 2

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

An accidental death leads to tragedy in Kevin and Michael Goetz’s tale of familial trouble in America’s heartland. The plot centers around two very dissimilar brothers: Ray Young (Ben Robson) is a rough, scruffy womanizer who drinks to excess and has a propensity for getting into bar fights, while police deputy Norman (Brenton Thwaites) is a callow straight-arrow type who has trouble even talking to girls. Both are involved with the Campbell sisters—Ray with Abbey (Claire Holt) and Norman with Frances (Alycia Debnam-Carey)—but Ray’s infidelity infuriates Abbey, and one night as they drive through a remote area she produces a gun. During the ensuing struggle it goes off, killing her. Ray panics and calls on Norman to use his lawman’s skills to cover things up, but the canny local sheriff (Ted Levine) senses that something is off with the scenario that Norman has staged to protect his brother. As the investigation drags on, Ray is increasingly wracked with guilt, Abbey’s father (Gerald McRaney) grows more certain that Ray was involved in his daughter’s death, and Frances suspects that Norman is also implicated. While it boasts a good cast and some strong moments—including a final fraternal confrontation in which the brothers’ roles are reversed—this modern film noir dawdles and drags way too much. Not recommended. (F. Swietek)