Provinces of Night -- Film Review



SANTA BARBARA -- Based on a novel by William Gay ("That Evening Sun"), "Provinces of Night" is an unwieldy serving of Southern discomfort that plays out like fourth-rate Faulkner.

At least that's how it ends up in the (heavy) hands of director Shane Dax Taylor, who, along with actor-turned screenwriter W. Earl Brown have fashioned a sins-of-the-father yarn that veers from slow and talky to irredeemably over-the-top.

Despite its colorful cast, including a sturdy Kris Kristofferson turn as the crusty family patriarch, the film, which was had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, looks to have a tricky road ahead on the theatrical release front.

Determined to break the circle of violence that seems to surround the men folk of Tennessee's Bloodworth clan, young Fleming (unconvincing Canadian actor Reece Thompson) has designs on becoming a writer, much to the disapproval and/or indifference of his crazed, violent dad, Boyd (Dwight Yoakam), and two uncles -- the carousing, alcoholic Warren (Val Kilmer) and the bitter, hex-casting Brady (Brown).

When not tapping away at the portable typewriter he found in the local dumpster, Fleming's working on a budding romance with Raven (Hilary Duff), the daughter of the town whore (Sheila Kelley).

But the return of Kristofferson's E.F. Bloodworth, who had abandoned his three sons decades earlier, dredges up a lot of bad feelings and opens the floodgates for a whole mess of trouble.

Thanks to an over-reliance on dark flashbacks and foreboding visual cues, it's easy to tell where things are headed, even though they seem to take forever to get there.

It's admittedly still fun to watch Kristofferson and Kilmer playing kin, while Tim Orr, director David Gordon Green's go-to cinematographer, takes good advantage of that natural Southern light and trusted music supervisor T-Bone Burnett provides the authentic twang

Venue: Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Production companies: Dax Prods., Buffalo Bulldog Films
Cast: Kris Kristofferson, Val Kilmer, Shane Dax Taylor, Dwight Yoakam
Director: Shane Dax Taylor
Screenwriter: W. Earl Brown
Executive producers: T-Bone Burnett, Corky Taylor
Producers: W. Earl Brown, Kenneth Burke, Shane Dax Taylor
Director of photography: Tim Orr
Production designer: Brian Stultz
Costume designer: Leigh Leverett
Editor: Neguine Sanani
No MPAA Rating, 105 minutes