We were headed down to see the Chinese version of Long Day’s Journey Into Night which, literally, you could not connect to the Eugene O’Neill on a bet, but before it was airing there was this intriguing flick about high-stakes brinksmanship in the snowy mountains after a heist gone wrong.
The story is this: our heroes, cops in a small alpine town who are both romantically attracted to the same girl, pull over to help some strangers lost on a back road. What they don’t know (but we do) is that these guys just murdered some people in order to heist some gold, and their accidental encounter will result in one being killed, and the other nearly being killed and feeling very guilty. So guilty that he can’t even pursue the girl any more, even though she was maybe more interested in him in the first place.
Flash forward a year and she’s getting ready to leave town for good (unless he stops her) but the real fly in the ointment is our burglars are back in action after hiding out and waiting for…I think they’re waiting for the winter again because the only way they can get the gold is by sliding it across the ice. Hardly matters. The point is, they’re sniffing around while our morose sheriff sees a chance for (partial) redemption if he can bring these guys to justice. Or at least kill them.
A lot of good tension. People in rooms with other people who want to kill them. Or who might want to kill them if the opportunity arises. Or who seem to be harmless but that’s a lot of gold, man, and you know how people get around lots of gold.
Although it’s very straightforward, even plain (though not ugly or poorly shot), it excels by giving everyone a fleshed out feeling. You get to know your characters, sometimes after only a few brief scenes. That’s quality filmmaking right there. So if it didn’t knock our socks off, we were entertained in a conventional way and found much to like.
Long Day’s Journey would turn out to be another story.