Straw Dogs: Rated “R“ (105 Minutes)
Starring: Alexander Skarsgaard, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Dominic Purcell, James Woods
Directed by: Rod Lurie
How far will you go to protect those around you, those that you love? How far will you go to “get back” something that you believe is yours?
David Summer is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, his wife Amy is an equally successful actress (they met on the set of her hit TV series). After the passing of her father, they both wind up returning to her small hometown in the deep South to prepare her family home for sale. However, almost immediately upon their arrival, tensions build in both their marriage as well as between them and the local residents. It seems that back in high school, Amy was involved with Charlie (Skarsgaard) and, well, even though Amy appears to be well past those days, it seems that Charlie is not.
Charlie and his good old boys have put a bid in on repairing the roof of Amy’s Barn, and eve3n though they show up every day (early enough to wake the late sleeping Summers) they never really seem to make any serious progress on the repairs, knocking off after only a few hours of Faux work (and some serious drinking). As can be expected, these old conflicts reemerge with increasingly disastrous results, not to mention that Amy’s ex-boyfriend, still isn’t past his feelings for Amy, and has convinced him that Amy isn’t over him either and all he need do is…convince her, Needless to say leading to a violent confrontation.
First, Amy’s cat gets killed and strung up in the closet, then Charlie and his buddies take David hunting (forgetting to tell him that hunting season is over), then ditch him, allowing Charlie to circle back and “have his way” with Amy…OK, he rapes her, only it clear that – in his own head – he thinks that he is simply “convincing” her. Only when he is done, Norman, (Rhys Coiro), raps her as well (and isn’t nearly as “gentle” as was his friend. When David gets back, Amy doesn’t tell him about the rapes.
From here, the movie just gets more violent and devolves into an attack on the Summer house by Charlie and the boys that results in the Sheriff getting killed and all sorts of Uber-violence all around. While the film was interesting and (mostly) well done, it is hard to swallow that an intellectual Hollywood liberal elitist like David would so willing allow himself to be chided into not only going hunting but actually shoot and kill a deer. (Hey, walk out into the woods with a quartet of good ol’ southern boys, all that was missing from this scene was the banjos, and someone saying something about “a real pretty mouth.”)
Sorry folks, that part of the film didn’t ring true, but for most of the rest of it, it was a real good ride.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous publications, as well as on the web.