The foundation for Amy Seimetz's directorial debut, which she also wrote, produced, and co-edited, is boilerplate film noir: There's a dude (Kentucker Audley), a dame (Kate Lyn Sheil), and deepening trouble between them. She's in a difficult spot, and he, just trying to help, manages inevitably to trade up to a more difficult one. It's our privilege to sort out the details as they emerge, watching all the while with a familiar sinking feeling. Not for nothing does this hapless couple's glum Florida road trip get under way with a brawl in a mud puddle, and a gun in the glovebox. Coaxing freshly cinematic intrigue from inventive sound design and a smear of car-viewed Gulf Coast landscapes, Seimetz also assuredly updates the pulp scenario with contemporary indie-film vernacular: Conspicuous expository restraint manifests as a palpable will to not say too much, save for a few strategic flourishes of near-lyrical talk, and the director, whose background is in acting, takes care to let her characters seem more like vulnerable young people than mere movie types. Affectingly, she also calibrates the movie's violence to avoid cheap thrills or a faux-jaded pose. This story is about a bad situation, but the shrewdness of its telling makes for a good time.
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