The Movie Waffler Sundance London 2019 Review - THE DEATH OF DICK LONG | The Movie Waffler

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Sundance London 2019 Review - THE DEATH OF DICK LONG

the death of dick long review
Dick died last night, and Zeke and Earl don't want anybody finding out how. That's too bad though, cause news travels fast in small-town Alabama.


Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Daniel Scheinert

Starring: Michael Abbott Jr. Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Janelle Cochrane, Sunita Mani, Virginia Newcomb, Poppy Cunningham, Jess Weixler



Co-director Daniel Scheinert plays the titular character of The Death of Dick Long and delivers only one line, which is spoken at the beginning. Dick Long says to his friends Zeke and Earl, "Y'all motherfuckers wanna get weird?"

I was not prepared for the answer. I did not expect just how hilariously bizarre and bizarrely hilarious this little indie would ultimately be.

A wild Fargo-esque mystery set in the Deep South, the less you know about the plot the better, because The Death of Dick Long unfolds at a fairly leisurely pace so it's ideal to be in a state of maximum intrigue. But to share a few preliminary details: we follow the fictional band Pink Freud, made up of three friends, Zeke Olsen (Michael Abbott Jr.), Earl Wyeth (Andre Hyland) and Dick Long. Dick winds up dead in the back of their truck and they dump his body at the entrance of a hospital.

This triggers an investigation by Sheriff Spencer (Janelle Cochrane) and Officer Dudley (Sarah Baker) and prompts Zeke to frantically remove any evidence of his friend's death that could be connected to him, hiding it all from Dick’s wary partner Jane (Jess Weixler), as well as his wife Lydia (Virginia Newcomb) and daughter Cynthia (Poppy Cunningham). It plays out a little like Walter hiding his secret from his family in Breaking Bad, except it’s through a distinctly Alabaman lens.

It was fitting that this was the final picture I saw at Sundance London because The Death of Dick Long is kind of the ultimate indie movie. Scheinert’s vision is uninhibited and uninterrupted, resulting in a delightfully frenzied experience that demands you to get on board with it as opposed to thinking what an audience would want.

the death of dick long review

Scheinert, who co-wrote and co-directed the wonderfully eccentric Swiss Army Man with Dan Kwan, finds another winning collaboration with writer Billy Chew, who together strike a totally deadpan, and even somewhat melodramatic, tone with a quirky sense of humour - and give us one hell of a plot twist.

They create a colourful world, chock full of amusing oddities, like the irregular cop duo - one is obese and the other is on a walking stick - who take charge in tackling a case of murder. Humour comes from scenarios in which the punchline doesn't come until much later, and one such example is the top billing of the "Support and Community Outreach Producer" in the opening credits. It's a totally odd inclusion, but at the end credits, I laughed out loud as I remembered it.

I don't remember the name of that particular producer - nor the individual credited for "All The Food Stuffs" - because I was fixated at their peculiar titles. But I won’t be forgetting the names of this cast. This black comedy succeeds because of the lack of familiar faces (unless of course you remember Hyland as Lame Ass Dude in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) as their obscurity allows them to fully disappear into their characters as they lend such commitment to the ridiculous turn of the events, so much so that the film is even genuinely moving when Zeke’s relationship with his family starts to fracture.

Every one of these actors is a pro at selling the non-traditional humour - if you saw the dialogue on paper, it wouldn't read particularly funny, but they spin it into comic gold. Of course, comedy is subjective, so it's impossible to tell if this absurdly dark comedy will gel with everyone. However, if you want to get weird, I highly recommend experiencing this brilliantly unusual cinematic adventure with the strange folks of small-town Alabama. At the very least, it's appreciable that such an offbeat work of art can be made - and, through the tears of laughter, I felt that it was made for people exactly like me.

The Death of Dick Long is currently seeking UK/ROI distribution.





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