The film, The Quarry, is based on a book by Damon Galgut and director, Scott Teems, refers to it as “a Texas fable, haunted and hopeful, and its aspirations are as big as the state in which it’s set.” I found this statement interesting because, as I watched the film, it felt like a parable, which may have been partially due to the religious themes in the film. I’ll forgive Teems for confusing the terms fable and parable in this case because I could feel myself nodding along as I read his prepared director’s statement, particularly when he said:
I was compelled by the deeply personal and starkly profound story of a man caught in a web of lies, haunted by his past, and desperate for redemption.
The film is a slow burn, it’s pacing matches the small town in which it takes pace. It feels like a tube drifting down a stream with no current. I am a fan of action; of fast paced movies, but I still found myself enjoying this one. Part of that may have been the casting – I have long been a fan of Michael Shannon, and Shea Whigham was perfect opposite Shannon. Both filled their character’s shoes perfectly and could have been offering a master class in character acting. These two men, in an empty room, at a table lit by a single bare light bulb having a conversation could still mesmerize and captivate an audience.
Even though I enjoyed the movie, I felt like it was lacking – it ended too quickly. The film needed more build-up; more body. Teems said that the book the film is based on is:
one that deals with the cycles of human violence, and the ways that history seems doomed to repeat itself, ad nauseam, forever. And though the book was first published in 1995, its themes remain fraught and relevant, today as much as ever.
I feel like the film could have done a better job of queuing this up. It definitely communicates everything, but the characters feel underdeveloped and could use more background. I realize this would have extended the running time of the film and with a slow paced film that can be the death knell, but I didn’t feel like I was as committed to the characters as I should have been.
The film starts with a preacher finding a collapsed man (Shea Whigham) on the side of the road and, before the movie really kicks off, the man kills the preacher and assumes his identity; travelling to the small town that hired the preacher and taking over the church. While the murderer preaches forgiveness and acceptance, the preacher’s body is discovered and the local drug dealer, a Mexican man, is blamed. As the man fights with his guilty conscious, we watch to see how far he’ll go in letting the drug dealer take the blame. The entire time I watched the film, I felt like I was watching a story of redemption and a guilty conscience. The ending was not quite what I expected, but it definitely fit the movie. As I said earlier, before the conclusion of the film, I would have preferred to have been more heavily invested in the characters, but I still enjoyed it.
The movie was released on demand on Friday, April 17.