Friday 12 August 2022

Movie Review: Lake City (2008)

A drama about tragedies of the past and mistakes of the present, Lake City barely rises about the mundane before sinking into ineptitude.

Maggie (Sissy Spacek) lives on her own farm in the small rural town of Lake City. In a nearby big city, her grown son Billy (Troy Garity) tangles with drug dealer Red (Dave Matthews) who is looking for Billy's girlfriend Hope. Billy collects Hope's son Clayton (Colin Ford), a young teenager, and flees back to the countryside and his mother Maggie's house.

A dark chapter from the past stands between Maggie and Billy, and they find it difficult to communicate. Young Clayton explores the farm and starts to bond with Maggie, while Billy reconnects with childhood friend Jennifer (Rebecca Romijn), who is now Lake City's local police officer. The frantic Hope suddenly barges in on Maggie and Billy, followed quickly by the agitated Red, triggering heightened tensions.

An independent production written and directed by Perry Moore and Hunter Hill, only the presence of Sissy Spacek saves Lake City from television-level tripe. Spacek elevates the material and infuses much needed quality, although she never has to stretch in the role of a soulful mother living under the shadow of an event-that-should-not-be-talked-about, her quiet misery now amplified by the re-emergence of a troubled son. 

Troy Garity struggles for impact as the other major character, Billy stuck between prodigal son and grumpy bad boy. A couple of familiar names do better in underwritten roles, Keith Carradine and Barry Corbin deserving more screen time as salt-of-the-earth locals.

But narrative weaknesses ultimately overwhelm all the acting talent. Numerous plot fragments are tossed at the lake in the hope that some will float, all predictable and none provided with the necessary buoyancy. Of course Clayton is more than just the son of Billy's friend, but their bond is never properly evolved. The cause of the chill between Maggie and Billy is an event lyrically telegraphed in sunset-drenched flashbacks. The details are finally revealed over the kitchen sink, and not much else of emotional substance follows.

Worse of all is the wedged-in drug smuggling plot, which does not reach half-baked status. Hope as the main agitator gets one scene and no coherent opportunity to present as a real person. Red is a cartoonish villain out of countless other movies. And in a crippling final act, nameless goons show up to wreak havoc in a bewildering and clumsy last-gasp attempt to convert a drama into a thriller.

Despite earnest intentions, Lake City is a collection of familiar ideas recycled into flotsam and jetsam.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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