Over the last decade, with the advent of streaming services and on-demand, TV has become big business. Arguably overtaking film in terms of both viewer appetite and critical acclaim. Whilst most actors have always started out on the small screen, we’re beginning to see a new generation of film star who made their name in the serialised format. In Jamie M. Dagg’s Sweet Virginia, Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead/Daredevil) and Christopher Abbott (Girls) play two Virginians far from home.
In a rural Alaskan town, former rodeo champion Sam (Bernthal) ekes out a living working at a motel. He’s having an affair with a married woman (Rosemarie DeWitt), whose husband is brutally murdered, along with two others, in a seemingly random attack. Lila (Imogen Poots) hired a contract killer (Elwood – Abbott) to execute her violent husband, but the other men got in the way. As Lila desperately tries to get the insurance money to pay for the hit, Elwood, who is staying at the motel, strikes up a friendship with Sam.
Sweet Virginia is a tense thriller about love, betrayal and emotional instability. The plot could easily be straight out of a Coen Brothers movie, but the cast play it straight and slightly off-key. Bernthal stands out as the downtrodden Sam, trying to make a new life for himself in a remote American community. Decisions have ramifications, with one bad choice having a devastating effect on a number of lives. Sweet Virginia is a slow-burning drama which exposes the cracks beneath the surface of a small town.
Sweet Virginia is released on DVD by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment on 15 January.