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The movie’s melodramatic flourishes are many — one overwrought, contrived and extreme situation after another dropped into the stew until it all boils over.
“Back Roads” is a turgid Red State Gothic mystery melodrama — without meth, without Southern accents.
At least Pettyfer and screenwriter Tawni O’Dell (adapting her novel) manage to hide their twists and deliver the occasional almost-shocking surprise. Harley Altmyer (Pettyfer) is interrogated by the sheriff (Robert Patrick). ” It’s the pre-cell-phone mid-’90s, and in the film’s one, long flashback, we see the miserable life that put Harley in that spot.
He’s a young man, barely out of his teens, wearing the weight of the world in his eyes and on his shoulders.
Only eight year old Jody (Hala Finley) seems savable, the only kid there with a prayer of a normal life. He quakes at his burdens and glowers at his mother (Juliette Lewis, letting us see a woman in despairing collapse) as she tries to comfort Jody during a prison visit, and comes to a conclusion. ” He’s starting to wonder about what happened “back then,” beginning to piece it together.
And that’s just another weight piled upon his shoulders.