The Quarry review – all the right materials can’t quite coalesce in this rural drama Digging In

April 18, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film, Film Reviews
3

Summary

A slow-paced rural drama that doesn’t mine too deep, but is worth a look on the strength of its leading performances.

3

Summary

A slow-paced rural drama that doesn’t mine too deep, but is worth a look on the strength of its leading performances.

Scott Teems’ The Quarry has a lot going for it, including the latest great Michael Shannon performance, and to rival it from Shea Whigham, who here plays David Martin, the new preacher in a small West Texas town – or does he?

That’s the hook, which is another of the highlights. Shea Whigham doesn’t really play David Martin at all, but rather assumed that identity when he killed and buried the real preacher (Bruno Bichir) in the remote quarry after which the film is named. He arrives in cash-strapped Bevel to a Spanish-speaking and not particularly devoted congregation who’re none the wiser, but who also quickly take to his peculiarly up-front style of ministration. Not entirely convinced, though, is Shannon’s police chief Moore, who rightly thinks there’s something off about the new arrival.

The Quarry is based on a 1995 novel by Damon Galgut, though the setting and tone has been transplanted for an evocative neo-Western that moves along at a dramatically damaging crawl and only shifts gears for a reasonably effective finale that is too little too late. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a slow-burn, Whigham’s character confuses being inscrutable for being compelling, and there’s little in the way of justification for his actions that would have given the premise more logic. Without any deeper exploration of these characters, what we’re left with is the strength of the leading performances, particularly Shannon’s. The film’s worth a look on that basis, even if, despite digging up the right materials, it isn’t quite able to assemble them in a way that amounts to much.


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