By Stephen Swanson, WCCO

Part of me wants to sum up Small Town Murder Songs as Fargo without the funny or the quirky, but that would be harsh. Yes, the lead is Coen Bros. vet and Swedish treasure Peter Stormare, who was a dopey menace in Fargo (and head nihilist in The Big Lebowski). And you can’t fight daydreaming of Francis McDormand as Marge Gunderson when you hear Martha Plimpton’s belabored attempts at an Ontario accent. But you also can’t fight Small Town Murder Song‘s stripped down whodunit thrills.

Stormare plays Walter, a Canadian cop in a small Mennonite town who’s investigating a murder that may be connected to the new flame of his ex-girlfriend (Law & Order‘s Jill Hennessy). And despite his turn to religion and a stable relationship with Sam the waitress (Plimpton) he’s constantly remind of his own murderous past.

Toronto-born writer/director Ed Gass-Donnelly has a knack for nuance, and keeps Small Town at the appropriate energy level. Also noteworthy is the impressive and stark landscape photography, and the unusually effective and almost tribal music by Bruce Peninsula. But hey, the real draw is the ever odd and captivating Peter Stormare. (Theater 3, 6:30 p.m.)



Other Highlights: Sunday, April 17

2011 msp film festival logo Movie Blog MSPIFF Spotlight: Murder Songs

(credit: The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Cracks, in which a vampy Eva Green expands young girls’ minds at an uptight boarding school, and maybe, just maybe sets them into direct competition. Full review here. (Theater 4; 4 p.m.)

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary stunt is technically called Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, because they bought the rights to title the movie, which was entirely funded through sponsorships. Has Spurlock opened Pandora’s Box? (Theater 1; 6:30 p.m.)

Trollhunter, a splashy looking Norwegian faux-documentary creature feature. Call it Norway’s answer to Cloverfield. (Theater 2; 9:30 p.m.)


For the complete festival schedule, click here. An alphabetical listing of all the movies being shown can be found here. Ticket information is here.


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