A lonely woman trying to escape her tragic past takes in an eccentric drifter. There her troubles really begin...
The cinematic equivalent of itching powder, director William Friedkin’s unsettling film nicks more than a pinch of The Exorcist’s ungodly ability to get under the skin.
As Agnes, a lonely waitress living in fear of her abusive ex-husband, Ashley Judd delivers an uncharacteristically emotive performance in this adaptation of Tracey Letts’ off-Broadway play.
The bulk of the action taking place in a grimy motel room, where Agnes deals with Harry Connick Jr’s punch-happy former spouse and the repercussions of letting Michael Shannon’s troubled drifter into her life, giving an undeniably stagey feel which lends itself well to the claustrophobic proceedings. While the dialogue often raises the odd unintentional snigger, such shortcomings are alleviated by strong central performances and the director’s long experience, making him expert in wringing palpable tension from the premise.
The dialogue raises the odd snigger and the final act is perhaps a little too barmy, but a committed cast and an experienced director make this a tense and effectively claustrophobic experience.