When we talk of “pace” in a movie review, it doesn’t just mean the speed at which the story unfolds.
It refers to energy in the performances, narrative drive, “urgency” in the way what we’re watching grabs us and pulls us with it to the bitter end.
“The Dirty Kind” is a movie with no pace, no narrative drive, sleepwalking performances and zero urgency.
That’s why if you jump to the end of the review you’ll see zero stars, a rating so rare I have to track down internet art to illustrate it whenever I have to trot it out.
This mystery-thriller has no mystery and no thrills. It’s a picture with more off-screen gossip than story. This is how bad a movie can turn out when Michael Madsen’s trumpeted as a producer and nine days is the length of the shoot, and something the filmmakers felt the need to brag about.
What, we’re supposed to evaluate this crap on the curve? This is “48 Hour Film Project” bad. How’s that?
Sniffing around the Internet, you can discover that the “story” — I hesitate to call it that — was “inspired” by the Congressman Anthony Weiner sex scandal. A senator gets his lap-dancing girlfriend pregnant and the guy he hires to “take care of it” doesn’t drive her to the clinic. He brings along a friend who kills her to get all the money promised for taking “care of it.”
But the lax, meandering movie loses track of the senator (Paul C. Kelly) and the missing woman, professional name “Natalie Cottontail” (Victoria Wallace).
The private eye may borrow the names of detective story novelists Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain for his name, Raymond Cain (Duke Williams). But he’s no tough guy, no smart guy, no guy with any sense of urgency about this missing and presumed dead daughter of the person who hired him. If you must see this, watch how he’s abused in the inevitable “asking too many questions” kidnapping and beating. Very, um, Harvey Weinstein styled punishment from the hoodlums.
While there’s some justification for taking our PI into a private, off-the-books “lap dance club” (filmed in dim, red lighting). He’s asking questions, right? But shlepping to a party for the most banal cocktail banter in screen history? You’ve got 84 minutes of movie. DO something with them.
Writer-director Vilan Trub manages one cute moment. Raymond Cain is paid in cash, which he stashes in a Trojans box in his nightstand.
Nothing else — not one performance, not one moment of action, not one bit of questioning — engages, enlightens, enrages or titillates.
Our hero doesn’t show up for 20 minutes, and we regret that the filmmakers interrupted his nap.
His best line may be in self-defense –“I am not a creep.”
His worst line is every other word out of his mouth. “I think we got off on awkward terms.”
Ever heard that sentence by a native English speaker? Anywhere?
“Awkward” is the perfect single-word description of “The Dirty Kind.” There are awkward pauses in exchanges of dialogue, as if the actors are struggling to come up with their line. Not that there’s any sign of a struggle. Every single actor seems drained of life.
The editing is awkward to the point of clumsy. And don’t get me started on the lighting.
The film’s brief 84 minutes are interminable.
It’s only May, and we may already have a candidate for Worst Picture of 2019. And keep in mind, I’ve already seen “79 Parts.”
MPAA Rating: unrated
Cast: Duke Williams, John Mertens, Amanda Plant, Victoria Freire, Ed Glynn
Credits: Written and directed by Vilan Trub. A Bayview release.
Running Time: 1:25