out of Five
Running time: 95
Quirky, small-town thriller with a good script and interesting characters, to say nothing of a magnificently sleazy performance by Randy Quaid.
Milwaukee, Minnesota is the debut feature by director Allan Mindel. As such, it’s the kind of small, quirky, noir-ish drama / thriller that John Dahl (Red Rock West, The Last Seduction) doesn’t make anymore. It’s also notable for the lead character’s remarkable resemblance to Adam Sandler…
Boy Talks To Fish
Troy Garity (Jane Fonda’s son, trivia-fans!) stars as Albert, a mildly
retarded young man who lives in a chilly Milwaukee suburb with his
over-protective mother (Debra Monk). He works in Mr McNally’s (Bruce Dern) photocopying store but his main income comes from the huge cheques he racks up from local ice-fishing competitions (his mother won’t let him travel out of the state), thanks to his ‘special’ gift of being able to talk to the fish.
However, when Albert’s mother dies, his notoriety soon makes him the target of various hustlers: brother and sister Stanley and Tuey (Hank Harris and Alison Folland) and sleazy con artist Jerry James (Randy Quaid). While Tuey works her feminine charms on Albert, Jerry manages to pass himself off as Albert’s long-lost father. However, Albert isn’t quite as dumb as he appears…
Enjoyable And Quirky
Milwaukee, Minnesota is an enjoyable, well-acted little film. Garity is particularly good and never stoops to Rain Man-esque theatrics. Folland (To Die For) makes an attractive, offbeat female lead and it’s also a treat to see Bruce Dern and Randy Quaid facing off against each other. There’s also a bizarre cameo by Josh Brolin as an inept would-be rapist.
The script, by R.D. Murphy is well-written, cleverly weaving together
several minor twists and lacing the whole film with subtle humour. It’s also beautifully shot and could fit nicely into the mini-genre of ‘Snow Movies’ that includes A Simple Plan, Fargo and Affliction.
There are some great shots, too – particularly a long-shot of Albert walking off into the icy brilliant-white lake (the screen appears completely whited-out), gradually followed by other ice-anglers.
In short, Milwaukee, Minnesota is an enjoyable, quirky little drama / thriller with good performances and a decent script – there’s more than enough here to make Mindel’s next film an enticing prospect. Recommended.