Peter Stormare turns in a subdued but outstanding performance as the taciturn born-again Walter, an Ontario Mennonite farming town's police chief investigating the brutal murder of a young woman. Walter puts the investigation in jeopardy when his violent past clashes with his struggle to remain faithful to his religious calling, his buried obsession for his old flame and his hatred for her new lowlife boyfriend. Meanwhile, his current diner waitress girlfriend, played wonderfully by Martha Plimpton, tries to keep Walter on the straight and narrow while inadvertently pushing him over the edge. The film's bleak colors and winter setting gives the story a stark and desolate feel as Walter labors for his redemption while an explosive Gospel soundtrack by Canadian indie rock band Bruce Peninsula provides the story with a sort of Greek Chorus of traditionals. At just 75 minutes, Small Town Murder Songs is a tad on the short side, but it's a fantastic character study with superb performances and a crisply paced story.
Sun., March 6, 4:30 p.m., 2011