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Small Engine Repair

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Then what? We have a fuckin’ dance with each other in your lawnmower shop?

A slow-burning, dialogue driven, extremely dark dramatic thriller featuring a brilliant cast that forces the audience to invest in their characters’ circumstances by displaying a genuine on-screen chemistry that perfectly matched the dynamic between the characters. It’s definitely not a comedy, but some of the banter between the protagonists is absolutely hilarious. Which I thought served as a smooth set-up for the more thrilling events in the film. This script is unpredictable, mainly because there’s a ton of mystery surrounding the plot, especially if you go into this film knowing absolutely nothing, like i did. Frank’s intensions are completely under wraps for most of the film, but in the third act, some things come to light, slowly connecting many of the missing pieces created in the first few acts.

There are a handful of weak social media references that make it seem like writer/director (and costar), John Pollono is a 75 year old retired farmer, but other than that there is not much to critique here. He did a magnificent job in what was his film debut as a director and writer, and I personally am going to be looking out for more work of his in the future. I’m also going to see if he’s done any tv or stage work in the past because Letterboxd doesn’t have him credited for much at all. Which makes this film all the more impressive.

These acting performances from Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, and Pollono are absolutely legendary. For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel like they’re going to get much awards attention, or credit for these performances at all. Bernthal in-particular was unbelievable, turning in what was probably the best performance of his already impressive career so far. Also he’s got bars AND a jump shot, which you’ll witness in this film. I hope everyone involved is proud of their contribution to this film, because it’s going to probably end up being an all-timer for this. Already looking forward to the first rewatch.

It’s not getting a ton of hype now, but I have a feeling this film is going to blow up when it inevitably gets picked up by a streaming service in the near future.

Added to Top 10 Acting Performances of 2021 Running List
Added to Top 10 Ensemble Casts of 2021 Running List

2021 Films – Ranked


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