There's urban noir, like Night and the City
, and suburban noir, like Double Indemnity
. With Don McKay
, Jake Goldberger puts his stamp on the latter, offering a sad-sack janitor (producer Thomas Haden Church), who returns to his East Coast hometown when he learns that his old girlfriend, Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), has a terminal illness. Sonny, who spends her days in shiny negligees, wants to get back together, which suits Don just fine, though he has his doubts about Dr. Pryce (James Rebhorn), and Marie (Melissa Leo, stealing every scene), Sonny's live-in nurse, who both act more like jealous lovers than medical professionals. When Pryce tries to strangle Don, he kills the man in self-defense and hides the body, turning to his friend, Otis (Keith David), for help, since the police aren't likely to believe him due to the events of the past (Goldberger withholds the details until the end). In the meantime, Don puts up with Sonny's tempestuous seduction act until he can't take it anymore, but escaping her clutches proves unexpectedly difficult, especially once blackmailer Mel (Pruitt Taylor Vince) enters the scene. As in the melodramas of yore, characters say the most preposterous things, but Goldberger keeps you guessing as to their real motives. If he casts Church and Shue against type, that only deepens the central mystery, though the star comes off better than his leading lady, who sometimes seems lost. Still, their talents ensure that the writer-director's debut doesn't slide into farce--though it sure comes close. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
In this edgy thriller, Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways) flees his hometown after a horrendous tragedy and vows never to return. But 25 years later he comes back to find a dark menace looming over the town. As he attempts to rekindle his romance with an old high school girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas), Don is pulled into a malevolent world from which he may never escape.