Original title:Laroy
Director:Shane Atkinson
Running time:112 minutes
Release date:12 april 2024
Ray discovers that his wife is cheating on him and decides to end his life in a motel parking lot. Just before, a stranger bursts into his car, thinking he's dealing with the killer he's hired. Baffled by this misunderstanding, Ray finally accepts the mission, convinced that people will finally respect him. The plan was supposed to be simple. But before long, Ray finds himself caught up in a situation he'll have to get out of before it's too late...

Mulder's Review

Set in the heart of rural Texas, LaRoy, directed by Shane Atkinson, is an eccentric and engaging crime comedy that delves into the lives of its oddball characters, set against the backdrop of a seemingly serene but deeply dysfunctional small town. With influences reminiscent of the Coen brothers, Shane Atkinson's debut blends elements of mistaken identity, murder for hire and a healthy dose of dark humor to create an entertaining and often unpredictable cinematic experience.

The story kicks off with an opening scene that instantly draws you in: a seemingly innocuous conversation between two men becomes chilling as the theme of mortality and chance enters the picture. We meet Ray Jepsen (John Magaro), a man whose life is as mundane as his surroundings. He co-owns a family hardware store and is in a strained marriage to Stacey-Lynn (Megan Stevenson), a former beauty queen with dreams of her own. But when Ray learns of his wife's affair from his friend Skip (Steve Zahn), a peculiar private investigator with a penchant for bolo ties and eccentric theories, his life takes an abrupt turn.

The film's strength undoubtedly lies in its ensemble cast, each contributing distinct layers to LaRoy's eccentric tapestry. Steve Zahn steals the show as Skip, imbuing the role with his comic prowess. Zahn's performance brings a mix of absurdity and endearing charm to Skip, a character who could easily have been caricatured but instead becomes the beating heart of the film. His interactions with Ray create moments of outright hilarity, and their budding camaraderie adds depth to the story.

John Magaro portrays Ray as a man caught between the mundane struggles of life and the unexpected thrill of a new purpose. Magaro strikes a delicate balance between vulnerability and determination, making Ray a character the audience can root for despite his sometimes questionable decisions. Megan Stevenson brings complexity to Stacey-Lynn, a woman grappling with her own dreams and disillusions, while Matthew Del Negro delivers a memorable performance as Junior, Ray's overbearing older brother.

Shane Atkinson's direction breathes life into LaRoy itself, transforming the city into a living character. Dilapidated buildings, dusty roads and eccentric establishments create an atmospheric backdrop for the ensuing chaos. The film's production design and cinematography capture the essence of small-town life, providing a stark contrast to the often extravagant events that unfold.

Although LaRoy succeeds in combining elements of crime, comedy and drama, there are moments when the plot becomes tangled and the different genres don't mesh perfectly. The film sometimes struggles to find a balance between its comic moments and its more dramatic aspects, resulting in tonal shifts that can leave the audience slightly bewildered.

Nevertheless, LaRoy remains an entertaining and captivating film, a twisted tale of misadventure in a world where chaos and crime lurk beneath the surface of ordinary lives. Atkinson's nod to the Coen brothers is evident in his narrative approach, but the film retains its unique charm thanks to a well-crafted ensemble cast and a sincere affection for its eccentric characters.

LaRoy is a darkly humorous exploration of human imperfections, unexpected alliances and the quest for purpose in a world that is often as unpredictable as it is absurd. Even if his debut isn't perfect, Atkinson demonstrates his potential as a director and his ability to deliver an entertaining cinematic experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

LaRoy, Texas
Written and directed by Shane Atkinson
Produced by John Magaro, Caddy Vanasirikul, Sébastien Aubert, Jeremie Guiraud
Starring  John Magaro, Steve Zahn, Megan Stevenson, Matthew Del Negro, Dylan Baker
Cinematography : Mingjue Hu
Edited by Sebastian Mialik
Music by Delphine Malaussena, Rim Laurens, Clément Peiffer
Production companies : Orogen Entertainment, The Exchange, Needle's Eye Productions, Ellly Films, NEXT Productions, FLOTE Entertainment, Adastra Films
Distributed by Brainstorm Media (United States), ARP Selection (France)
Release dates : June 8, 2023 (Tribeca), April 12, 2024 (United States), april, 17 2024 (France)
Running time : 112 minutes

Seen September 6 2023 at Deauville international center

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