Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I'm a pimp. And pimps don't commit suicide." - Boxer Santaros
Southland Tales can either be one of the best films you'll ever see or one of the worst films you'll ever see. Either way, it's certainly one hell of a mind-trip.
This is the second film of writer/director Richard Kelly, aka the creator of Donnie Darko, one of my all-time favorite films and a favorite to many others. Naturally, many were excited for this film's premiere at Cannes. When it did premiere however, it was torn to shreds by critics and currently holds the second lowest rating in the festival's history.
This may not have been because the film was simply bad, but perhaps it was a film that was simply ahead of its time. About ten years ahead of its time. Watching the film's political satire gives a mixed array of emotions. As funny as some parallels are, others are a little too scary. Because of this, the film's only now been gaining traction.
It should be stated that this film is weird. Like, really, really weird. Like CGI cars "porking each other", Wallace Shawn in makeup, Christopher Lambert driving a deadly ice cream truck, and Justin Timberlake drunkenly lip-syncing "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers around dancing Marilyn Monroe lookalikes levels of weird. It's polarizing to say the least.
Each actor in the film seems out of place in their roles, but in the best way possible. Dwayne Johnson as Boxer Santaros, Seann William Scott as Roland and Ronald Taverner, and especially Justin Timberlake as Private Pilot Abilene give, for better or worse, performances and characters for the record books. The acting itself can feel off at times, but by the end, all is explained. At least, if you get it all at that end. Which you won't. At least not on your first viewing.
This is one of the few films I've seen that has no drops in quality throughout its entire runtime. As the film progresses, it only gets better and better, as well as stranger and more complex. But it's never pretentious or overwhelming. This all leads to a finale that is guaranteed to cause every viewer's mind to implode on itself, either resulting in a startling realization or a stinging headache.
As I stated before, you will not "get" Southland Tales on the first viewing. Trust me, you just won't. You might not even get it after two or three viewings. But if you're like me, with that intense interest still hovering over you, you'll watch it again. And again. And again. I have a feeling that this is an all-time favorite in the works.
Have a nice apocalypse.