Opening with a slow, dragging scene in a prison chapel, Small Crimes deserves at least a little credit for warning its audience well in advance that they will be praying for a reason to turn it off.
In part a monologue by leading man Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game Of Thrones fame, the chapel introduction sets the film’s tone, as it features both empty promises of repentance and reflection, and tired delivery of every word.
Coster-Waldau has proven himself to be quite capable after six seasons of HBO drama, but his talent is squandered as the ex-con ex-cop Joe; Molly Parker, distinguished congresswoman and Iraq veteran in Netflix’s House Of Cards also falls flat as a hospice nurse who makes poor life decisions.
Equally frustrating and frustrated are the supporting roles given to Robert Forster, Jacki Weaver, and Gary Cole. They cover the bases of hollow stereotypes given life seemingly to inflate the run time, as the irritating “gruff father,” “nagging mother,” and “dirty cop with dirtier moustache” respectively.
If most of the fat was trimmed, Small Crime could be an adequate short film; stretched thin and disjointed at 93 minutes, there exists a clean 40 scattered throughout that would be better off standing on their own.
Most relationships seem ill-defined, with all context for motivations taking place off-screen or in the past. The absent explanation for so much ridiculous behaviour grates against viewer patience; it seems less “alluring mystique” than “I won’t tell you because I don’t want to.”
The audience knows that Joe was in prison, they know most people don’t like him, and they know that there is a reason for both of these things; until the last twenty minutes it is only hinted at in passing. Anticlimactic and boring, Small Crimes’ eventual reveal pays off less than even its lackluster “action scenes.” One takes place off camera, with a spatter of blood here or there, and the other seems cut at random, with no sense of coherence as to positioning or tension.
Crimes fails to land either its punches, or its jokes; It was only when I googled the film to check the spelling of the lead’s name did I see that it was listed as a black comedy and it was only then that I realized it was trying to be funny.
Don’t get me wrong, I did laugh, but it was more caused by the lack of tension, the poorly shot action scenes, and the lack of any motivation for the most crucial of plot-based actions.
Small Crimes is no small disappointment. It does offer some value, however, in that it may reveal a flaw in the Netflix Original Programming business model; why would somebody watch Small Crimes on Netflix when on either side of its title screen is something way more enjoyable?
The only answer I could fathom is because the viewer has likely finished everything else to get to that point; my best advice would be to quit while you are ahead, or revisit something worth watching.
Better than: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, as reviewed in similar distaste by yours truly
Not as Good as: D) Any of the Above
You May Also Like: I Am Wrath an equally boring star vehicle about an ex-cop or something unimportant to its content
Disclaimer: Giuffre’s opinions reflect only his views, and not those of Imprint publications.