Uncle John revolves around the struggle to keep a mysterious disappearance unsolved
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There’s a lot to like about this movie.
Its deliberate pace will alienate some viewers. Others will appreciatethe artful way the back-story is unveiled and the lack of up-frontexposition. The performances are all excellent, but John Ashton stealsthe show as the title character. The direction and photography arefantastic as well.
I found the structure interesting, and was surprised at the some of thechoices that were made. Many films follow different story lines andbring them together for a definitive conclusion. In Uncle John, the twostory lines do pass by each other but they don’t merge. And after theirbrief meeting, they go their separate ways.
I found the story following Ashton’s character to be the moreinteresting to of the two and I believe a movie could have beensuccessfully made using that storyline alone. Still, this film worksand I will definitely check out Steven Piet’s next.
If you do enjoy Uncle John, I would give this film a try:
Small Town Murder Songs- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1429392/?ref_=nv_sr_1
After reading the reviews (2 of them) and seeing very little negativityabout this movie I watched it and happily enjoyed it.
Not really a mystery and for most it would be a bit on the slow side,but mature audiences that like a good story would enjoy this.
John Ashton of Beverly Hills Cop fame (enjoyed his acting ever since)holds the movie together well.
Some of the acting would be regarded by many as a bit amateurish andthe movie definitely was shot on a very low budget, but it still holdstogether well.
Give it a try, you will not regret it.
John Ashton is one of those supremely gifted character actors thatconstantly find themselves in movies not quite worthy of their talents.The litmus test is this: Search through Ashton’s film resume here onIMDb and find movies you’ve seen that he’s starred in. His wide-eyed,wizened face has been endearing you longer than you may realize (hismost famous turn has got to be as Judge Reinhold’s gruffly sardonicmentor in ”Beverly Hills Cop”). His comedic delivery is often so dry itcrackles.
This makes him the perfect find for the title role in director StevenPiet’s surprisingly engaging, often very funny thriller ”Uncle John.”The film begins with John hauling away and burning a body in one of hisfields on his rural Illinois farm. The victim turns out to be a guynamed Dutch who (from the vitriol spouted by almost everyone in thesmall town) people despised — and even more so when he found religionand embarked on the not-too-smart idea of going from door to door and”apologizing” for his past sins.
Piet and co-writer Erik Crary’s script is rather bold in its executionhowever, because it doesn’t just stick with John and his quietlyengrossing story. The writers ping-pong constantly to another plotrevolving around John’s nephew (Alex Moffat) and a co-worker he’stentatively courting (Jenna Lyng) at a small commercial ad agency inChicago. For a good part of the film, you’ll wonder what the hell thisplot has to do with the A-story, but after a while you won’t care:Moffat and Lyng have such an electric chemistry and their dialogue isso real, so drop-dead funny at times, that it’s just a joy to watch(the B-story actually does provide a lot of insight into John’scharacter, though it’s not really needed thanks to Ashton’s skill).
It’s one of thosetwo-trains-speeding-down-the-track-rolling-right-for-each-other-typescripts (think ”No Country for Old Men,” though not on that scale,obviously). And of course there’s a time bomb at the collision point,and quite a menacing one, in Ronnie Gene Blevins, who plays the deadguy’s angry, redneck, slightly-psychotic younger brother.
It all comes together because of Ashton, however. As per usual, heconceals virtually everything he’s feeling, but in that cunninglytransparent way that lets you into his subconscious — whether youwant to be there or not. He tells you everything you need to know abouthis life, his dead wife (who Dutch was snaking), and his sense ofmorality without saying much at all. It’s all in that face and thoseeyes, which have just gotten more expressive with time.
”Uncle John” also gets the look, feel, and cadence of rural Illinoisstunningly right. The diner scenes with John’s daily cronies (DonForsten, Gary Houston, and Matt Kozlowski — all worth mentioning) arepriceless and not just in non-condescending accuracy. They’re awonderful Greek chorus. And Alex Moffat’s dry-ice deliveries recallDavid Spade at his sharpest.
It’s not a film for the impatient, but there’s a mother-lode of richesin that there brush fire.
I personally would call this a masterpiece. This is so well constructedand put together on so many levels. I rarely see a movie of suchcaliber and will see this many more times just to see how well it wascrafted.
This is a slow moving movie, and has many layers interweaving in andout all over the place like a masterfully scripted classical musicalpiece.
The relationship between the boy and girl is one of the bestchemistry’s I have ever seen on the silver screen. I just wanted tolisten to them, wanted them to be together forever. I almost felt I wasin their company their level of intimacy was so real and refreshing.
The acting was so brilliant most of the actors just drew you into totheir world.
This movie is slow, its a thinker, and will leave you thinking longafter the movie ends … and that is the brilliance of a brilliantmovie.
I feel like this was a story that could have used a lot more refiningaround the edges, as to make the mystery aspect hit a lot harder and tomake it more effective. As it is, it’s still pretty good. I do admireit’s resistance to go for easy, cheap thrills, as overall the filmnever goes into places that you expect it to go, or to have twists andturns that are the usual for this type of film. The acting is very goodI think, all believable in their parts especially the lead actorplaying Uncle John. I do think that the film would leave a lot ofaudiences wanting more, and expecting a lot more out of it. As it ishowever, I do feel like it leaves a strong enough impact to really berecommended.
This actually won an award? Of course, (for cinematography?!) at asmall film festival where there isn’t much going on. This film isbasically about not much. Something about a murder? Maybe. We assumeit’s a murder but there is no evidence since the film opens with anambiguous scene. And perhaps the whole film is ambiguous. It’s neverclear if the opening was a murder, it’s never clear to Danny if hisbrother was murdered. It appears more like Dutch, the town’s bully, wasdepressed and wanted to atone for his misdeeds and doesn’t happen uponUncle John but commits suicide and Uncle John covers it up. The lakewas dragged and nothing was discovered. The lead suspect was a deadend. Ben’s relationship with Kate is ambiguous. Is it romance orfriendship?
This film spends most of the movie in limbo, not going anywhere. Like asailboat with no wind, in dead calm. Ambiguous relationship/romance,ambiguous murder/suicide, ambiguous uncle (he has a hidden side),ambiguous writing, and more. Makes for a below average movie. It’s oneredeeming quality is the fairly good acting. John Ashton does a solidjob of acting (not award-winning but quietly understated) and the youngBen and Kate (Alex Moffat and Jenna Lyng) are charming and have goodchemistry. It has interestingly good intentions but just doesn’t cutit. It’s like the protagonist of the film, the youthful Ben, who isunsure of many things. It lacks confidence and closure. But it tries.
Which for me is tragic, since I tend to favor independent andinternational films, rather than the standard Hollywood fare. But thisadmittedly does not come close to many good films out there. If youskip this movie, you wouldn’t miss anything. Real rating? anywhere from4.7-5.4.
Maybe it’s a good movie maybe it’s not. Hard to tell as it has theworst sound editing of any movie ever. When there’s dialog you have tocrank volume to 11 to hear anything and when there’s not, it’s sobizarrely loud it actually rattles the windows.
Others have noted the ‘deliberate’, ‘slow’, ‘patient’ pace of themovie. Short form, it’s boring. Bad writing that can’t or won’t fill inanything and instead the ‘story’ relies on the audience to sort ofimagine or write their own story and backstory in their heads. And ofcourse long long stretches of sad indie music and tinkling piano keys.
Dunno, maybe this blend of art-house indie mumblecore is for somepeople.
Although this movie can be a bit slow and the two plots may seem to bepolar opposites at first. They come together and the film becomesdeeper. This picture demonstrates what could be going on at yourneighbors house. I loved the quaintness, the true location shooting andhow real the film seems due to the low budget. The main characters actfairly well, but there are some flaws in the supporting actors. JohnAshton was great as Uncle John and portrayed the character’s turmoiland quiet strengths very well. The nephew, played by Alex Moffat, wasupbeat and witty and took the movie in a different direction with hisquest for love. I think the film is a great movie for buffs or peopleflipping through the independent section of Netflix. Don’t expect goreor moments of suspense. This movie is strictly about cause and effect.
I tried to give this movie a chance. It started off well, but the storyjust dragged on, and I felt like I was watching paint dry… There wasan opportunity by the director, or the writer to make this movie moreinteresting to viewers by expanding on the back story of severalcharacters mentioned in the movie and how they connected with the maincharacter. If they had done that, it certainly would have made themovie more interesting and would have given viewers a clearer story asto why the main character, made the choices he made. To me, thatmissing information, was the key to the entire story and it wasn’ttold… at all. Thus making the film as a whole, hollow!
I watch this knowing nothing about it as I like to do with smaller,indie type films.I watched this expecting a horror movie, it isn’t. Theacting was fantastic, especially John Ashton who I hadn’t seen sinceway back when he was in Beverly Hills! The pacing was slow but kept meglued the whole time. The sub story which runs along separately fromthe main story was great. Casting was perfect. Could quite easily passas a Cohen Bros film, very Fargo-ish. The last 20 minutes are so tensemy heart was thumping! Beautifully shot, I will be checking out thedirector’s other work real soon and I just hope this gets a UK blu rayrelease. A real gem of a film that looks great, sounds great and showsyet again that you don’t need £100 million to make a great film! Bravo!
Veteran character actor John Ashton (”Beverly Hills Cop” I and II,”Gone Baby Gone”) is sublime as ”Uncle John”, a quiet pillar of a smallfarming community whose residents are blithely unaware how deep hisstill waters run. Deep and dark.
Seems that John has lost someone dear to him. And there are those whowill pay for his pain. Dearly.
Alex Moffat and the stunning Jenna Lyng (a dead ringer for TV’s LisaLing) are also quite good here as coworkers/burgeoning lovers Ben andKate. The young couple have come a callin’ on Ben’s sweet Uncle Johnfor a brief overnight visit. What they don’t know about their kind andgracious host won’t hurt these two.
Which is certainly a damn sight more than can be said for the poorbastard who dares cross this benevolent, yet unforgiving, curiouscountry gentleman.
”Uncle John” (2015) is a rural neo-noir, set in farm and small towncountry of Wisconsin. This is an engaging story. It’s very much noir,opening with a murder committed by the protagonist, John Ashton ascarpenter Uncle John, who lives on a farm. He has a reason, which isrevenge for events that happened many years earlier. He’s an ordinarysmall town man, nearing 70, with gossipy friends who meet for coffee atthe local eatery.
The story holds us by the character portrait of a man attempting theperfect crime. We are made to identify with him in his secret endeavor.The murdered man has gone missing. The search has not turned up a bodyor clues, but the dead man’s brother has his suspicions, ratcheting upthe suspense. The themes include privacy and secrecy covering hiddendeeds and long-simmering hatred and revenge. They come to a boil whenthe dead man, who has hurt a number of people in the community, has areligious conversion and, wishing to avoid hell fire, is looking forforgiveness from those he harmed and reopening old wounds in theprocess.
Uncle John has a nephew in Chicago (Alex Moffat) who works inadvertising with Jenna Lyng. They unexpectedly visit Ashton, adding tothe suspense.
The movie is long, 113 minutes, the reason being that a lot of time isdevoted to the relationship between Moffat and Lyng. This amounts to aseparate story that’s not directly related to the main plot, other thanthrough their surprise visit. The love story balances the thrillerparts relating to Uncle John, and to some extent it sheds light on hisfeelings for what happened regarding his wife. Without the Moffat-Lyngromance, we’d be left with rather a straight crime story whose meaningand motivation would have left a bad taste. With this romance, we seeJohn’s personal relationships and feelings more clearly and feelgreater sympathy for him.
The romance story affords a look-see into the ways of a new generationand how some younger people may approach relationships and matters ofthe heart, assuming that their ways are meant to be somewhatrepresentative. What we see are two people in their twenties who haveboth dissolved previous affairs of significant length (like 5 years).Now they only tentatively approach one another, gradually getting toknow one another.
It’s really quite amazing that stories like this are written and made.This is part of the neo-noir phenomenon. The noir framework seems tooffer a rich canvas upon which to paint stories that explore deep anddark emotions in a suspenseful way.