Ned Rifle (2014)

HAL HARTLEY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 2014.  Screenplay by Hal Hartley.  Cinematography by .  Produced by Hal Hartley, .  Music by Hal Hartley.  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2014.  

Hal Hartley follows up Henry Fool and Fay Grim with more dark, wry explorations of his fascinating world of troubled characters.  is now fully grown and living in witness protection, a caution that is no longer necessary when his mother () is imprisoned for terrorist activity. Aiken has taken on the religious fervor of the Catholic priest () who has raised him for a number of years, and so decides that his natural father () is responsible for leading his mother astray and should die as a result. On his journey towards finding him, Aiken runs into a mysterious grad student () who is also looking for the same man but for reasons of her own.  Metallic cinematography, monotone yet beautiful, combines with a number of highly charismatic personalities (Plaza is particularly wonderful) for a terrific experience marred only by a weak performance from the central hero. His religious conviction is never believable and his dialogue delivery is lackluster, but his is the bland moral purity at the centre of a storm of lost personalities anyway, so Aiken causes no serious harm to what is otherwise a gem.

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