We Gotta Get Out of This Place review: This place is not as it seems
Let’s talk: Mark Pellegrino and Jeremy Allen White
Film Title: We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Director: Simon Hawkins , Zeke Hawkins
Starring: Jeremy Allen White, Logan Huffman, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Pellegrino
Running Time: 92 min
At the beginning of their debut feature, Simon and Zeke Hawkins lay out their ambitions in brave fashion. The fresh-faced, easily led Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) is chatting to his friend Sue (Mackenzie Davis) in a diner. She quotes the pulp master Jim Thompson. “There is only one plot,” the Oklahoman famously said. “And that is: things are not as they seem.”
Thirty years ago, also working in Texas, another pair of brothers appeared to use that phrase as a mantra when shooting their own first film. We Gotta Get Out of This Place is not up to the standard of the Coens’ Blood Simple. But it is a tight, properly convoluted slice of contemporary noir. Flies buzz around its steamy remains. Nobody is to be trusted. More than a few things (if not all) are not what they seem.
Bobby is about to head off to college with Sue – girlfriend to his best pal BJ (Logan Huffman) – and, to celebrate, they visit Mexico for some valedictory debauchery. BJ talks big while flashing around a suspiciously large wad of cash. When they return, he reveals that he robbed the money from his sleazy, volatile boss (Mark Pellegrino). There are, of course, endless hierarchies in such settings. In impressively quick time, the Hawkins boys engineer matters so that the young folk find themselves compelled to steal a larger sums of money from an even more sinister individual. When you hear that William Devane, perennial hard-ass, plays the top hood, you will understand the seriousness of the kids’ situation.
In the latter sections, the plot does, perhaps, get a little too convoluted. There is a sense that twists are being engineered as stunts rather than for a logical narrative purpose.
But the rusting Americana is brilliantly maintained, the old western conventions are honoured with respect, and the dread is accumulated at a nauseating pace. Thompson would recognise the Hawkins boys as his sort of people.