Film: Shimmer Lake

A shifty, diverting mystery, Shimmer Lake (2017) steps its plot backwards through several days’ worth of violent crimes, painting a picture of small-town treachery in reverse. It begins with disgraced attorney Andy Sikes (Rainn Wilson) muddling through the chaoctic aftermath of a bank heist gone wrong. He’s been on the run for several days from his own brother Zeke (Benjamin Walker), the town’s cool and collected sheriff. But as the tale unfolds, backwards, a complex tangle of characters wander onstage to place each days’ antics into dark new contexts.

Shimmer Lake is, first and foremost, a structural exercise. While mostly engaging, in the end it comes off like a low-rent descendant of indie crime cinema like Fargo or Reservoir Dogs, without possessing the requisite finesse. The involved plot does have a lot of moving parts, some cleverly intertwined, and the cast is rich with fun comic actors like Rob Corddry, Ron Livingston, John Michael Higgins, and Adam Pally. This makes for an entertaining ride, but one that jerks to an unceremonious halt when it lingers awkwardly on its quasi-elegant conclusion. The journey isn’t without interest, but don’t expect a particularly satisfying destination.


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