Violence has a way of affecting people. The new thriller Sweet Virginia has interesting characters that we follow throughout the course of the film but the story is much left to be desired. The film stars Jon Bernthal (Netflix’s The Punisher) and Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night) as two men who strike up a friendship in a small town located in Alaska while violence occurs. The film’s director Jamie M. Dagg (River) creates a good atmosphere with great establishing shots but in terms of the screenplay by Benjamin and Paul China (Crawl) the film may feel like a slow drag.
A triple murder occurs and Elwood (Abbott) has his reasons for committing such a horrible act. He’s visiting a small town in Alaska and stays at a local motel that is run by Sam (Bernthal). Both men have a past that feels a bit foggy to the audience which captures the imagination of who they were prior to them meeting. Elwood keeps to himself and does what he has to do while Sam is the good guy. He’s nice, kind, and just trying to do the right thing. Eventually, these two meet and discuss the daily occurrences of life. They meet for a late snack at a local diner which is one of the best scenes in the movie.
There are a lot of secrets going on in the characters that we meet. Besides Elwood and Sam, we also have Sam’s girlfriend Bernadette (Rosemarie DeWitt) and another lady named Lila (Imogen Poots). These women play a crucial role in the film, but considering the violence that happens in the film, I was surprised to see the movie’s focus on the central characters. We get no sense of what the town thinks or how other townsfolk feel about what’s happening.
Verdict 2 out of 5
Thrillers often work when there is a sense of mystery going on. The audience should keep guessing as to what is going to happen next and Sweet Virginia sadly has nothing thrilling about it. The performances are not to be ignored, everyone does a great job. I also appreciate the idea of not having any big over-the-top action sequences as this isn’t the point of this film. Sweet Virginia has a good look, fine acting, but has a story that is largely forgettable in the end and fails to keep us glued in our seats.