In “South of Heaven,” a Texas melodrama that draws like a taxonomic wolf, Jason Sudeikis plays Jimmy Ray, a new villain with bad luck. His childhood sweetheart (Evangeline Lily) dies of cancer, making him a saint who is always smiling, beaming, and patient. However, the pair’s 12-year engagement was further delayed by a series of horrors and coincidences. That forces the bank robber Sudeikis to use an electric drill and eventually a gun.
Can’t a good man go on a honeymoon?
Ajaron Keshales, who directed the film and co-wrote it with Kai Mark and Navot Papusado. Tries to say something about the misunderstood anti-hero and the futility of escalating revenge. (The previous thriller and papusado, The Big Bad Wolves, were exciting.) Here, though, the show is short and pointless.
Perhaps we could half save the script if it focused on the rabid male species playing Liam Neeson. But in style and tone of voice, “South of Heaven” wants to be taken seriously. A flaw that is exacerbated by Sudeikis’ performance. All the little sparkling smiles that audiences love. Even if Jimmy makes a silly decision after his subsequent encounter. At one point, the character’s difficulty is typified by a nail machine gripping a teddy bear.
There are some bright technical points. While primarily tasked with shooting in gorgeous monochrome. The cinematographer Matt Mitchell puts out excellent tracking shots of the home invasion. And composer David Fleming abandons his acoustic guitar to mark Jimmy’s work. On the cargo dock with a quick percussion beat. This scene is supposed to create monotony. But it has more zippers than the bullets to come.
Keshales visually messes things up in some order, and (not surprisingly) it’s the best in the film.
One of them is a series of shots showing the wind blowing. The trees blowing, curtains fluttering, banners fluttering, wind chimes ringing eerily. It’s scary what the calm before the storm means. Another important sequence is the multi-person shootout that takes place in one place. All this happens at first glance when the camera slides into a corner. And moves through the corridor, as men jump everywhere and traffic jams appear every few seconds. This consistency takes a lot of planning and coordination and pays off.
Sudeikis is a talented actor. He keeps things simple but can grow big and overdone if need be. He was outstanding in “Colossal”, “Kodachrome”, “Tumbledown”, “Sleeping With Other People” and excelled in “Ted Lasso”, a trustworthy man who is not afraid to display unpleasant qualities. He doesn’t press or show and is very good here.
Evangeline Lily as Annie wasn’t doing well either.
Part of this is due to the concept of character. Annie is enveloped in a golden glow of acceptance and humour. Like all cancer patients in films without imagination. Lung cancer is a terrible way of dying. Anyone who has ever seen someone die of lung cancer knows what effect it has on the body. Annie showed no signs of being sick.
You don’t need to take deep breaths or slow down. He has the energy to do the things he loves. At one point, it ran fast without showing any signs of twisting. Her hair is short, and Lily keeps it up, making it look more like a new chic hairstyle than the chemo. Annie epitomizes cancer as a plot point, one of my least favourite cinematic tropes. It’s really hard to invest emotionally in a trope masquerading as a human.
The film has its excitement, but they only come. When the unexpected happens (the scene between Price and Annie is incredible). For the most part, “South of Heaven” is as the title suggests: lukewarm, familiar and safe.