This film starts off like it could be something great, but just does not develop into much. A Single Shot is the new film from director David Rosenthal, a little known director and will probably stay that way after this film. The trailer made this film look excellent and with a few high quality actors, it seemed like it would be hard to go wrong. The film is a thrilling drama that follows a man struggling to survive after losing his job and having his wife leave him. Sam Rockwell plays is the star of the film, while a supporting cast is filled with stars including Melissa Leo, Jeffrey Wright, and William H. Macy.
The film starts out with John Moon (Rockwell), finding the body of a young woman when he is out hunting. He is out in the woods hunting deer, and it appears that he shoots the woman on accident, thinking that she was a deer. After finding the body, he also finds an abandoned truck and a box filled with money. His whole life changes, after a single shot that exits his rifle, spiraling out of control very quickly. Down on his luck, John has been forced to turn to poaching as his only source of money and could not have been luckier to have found the money. Unfortunately, there were other people who knew that money was there, and they start to come after him, after they find it missing. This escalates into a game of cat and mouse as they track him down and try to get their money back.
Some of the film is also concerned with him trying to get back together with his ex-wife and trying to work it out through a lawyer, Pitt (Macy). He ends up getting involved with the criminals that are after John after they confront him, but he is not able to tell them anything. John has no idea where this money came from, and soon finds himself in danger because of it. He quickly realizes who his true friends are, and after the criminals find him, the film turns escalates into a violent and torturous sequence, when they try to force him to go retrieve the money. It gets too graphic at times, resulting in parts of John's body being cut up to set an example of how serious they are. It is not clear exactly where the film is supposed to take place, but it is somewhere out in the country, where John is able to hunt as he pleases in the woods and everyone seems to know everyone. The characters also all have odd names such as Obadiah and Puffy, which is characteristic of people that would be living in that type of an area.
'A Single Shot' does a good job of showing how people can live in a run-down place and for an entire town filled with people that seem to have problems of some sort, they all appear to be drugged-out for much of the film. It also reminds me of 'Winter's Bone' in a way, based on the atmosphere and how the film feels throughout, as well as how the characters act. John is someone who is obviously going through some problems in his life, but he is not a very easy character to align with or like, and found it hard to connect with him throughout the film.
The supporting cast in the film is good, but the film does not give them enough of a chance to display their talents, which was disappointing. Melissa Leo is one of my favorite actresses in the past few years, but was not given enough of a chance and was hardly recognizable in this film. Jeffrey Wright's performance was probably my favorite of anyone, and had a very emotional scene at the end. Overall, this film had the potential to do good things, but just could not quite get there. It also stretched out, losing my interest about halfway through. If the length had been shorter, it is possible that it would have been able to do more, but that is something that we will never know.