Written and directed by Vilan Trub and executive produced by Reservoir Dog’s Michael Madsen, a look at how it all goes wrong for a politician, two gangsters, a hooker and the private investigator who gets mixed up in it all. Starring: Duke Williams, John Mertens, Ed Glynn, Miranda Plant, Paul C. Kelly, Anthony Coppola, Dean Ciallella and Victoria Friere.
The Dirty Kind starts out as it means to go on, kicking things off in a brash, somewhat gritty manner and getting straight to the point. It does also have a hint of neo-noir but this doesn’t come through too strongly and weakens as time goes on. Before very long, the film skips ahead in its timeline, it’s a jarring moment which is an issue that continues all throughout the film, it needed smoother transitions and a stronger hand in the editing, instead it feels like it’s skipping from moment to moment. It’s part of a larger problem that the film has with its style, constantly reflecting that brash nature rather than the controlled, slick, thriller elements that you’d expect to accompany a story about gangsters, political fixers and private investigators. There’s even a similar problem with the writing, which needed fine tuning as there’s a few hiccups with the idioms they use, it’s quite simple and doesn’t tread any new ground.
The acting is hit and miss, there are some performances which are more problematic than others, for instance Mertens tends to lean a little too heavily on the toxic masculinity and violent traits of his character and becomes over the top, but there’s no performance that doesn’t have issues. However, the entire story takes a turn for the grossly unnecessary when one of the gangsters uses masturbating onto another person as a punishment or warning, it’s difficult to imagine why the idea to include this would have happened, it’s a little twisted and in poor taste, it leaves a lingering bad impression that doesn’t dissipate for the rest of the film. Things only start to go downhill from there, the film seems to slowly but surely entirely forget its own plot and decides simply to redirect its focus to Williams’ P.I. Raymond and they could have potentially pulled that off, if they’d also provided a resolution to the original plot but this doesn’t happen. There’s also the secondary issue of Raymond lacking any particular personality or qualities that are unique to him as a character. It’s an aspect that’s made even further problematic by the fact that he doesn’t seem to really know what he’s doing as an investigator, mostly due to instances such as when he doesn’t think to put on gloves before illegally entering the apartment of a missing person.
The film starts out on good footing and makes it appear as though you’re going to get a dark investigation story about the seedy underbelly of the political world, and it briefly explores that and then dissolves into something unfocused that technically explores seedy but in much the wrong way. It’s a shame that they didn’t try to take a stronger tone or direction from that theme of investigation and push the noir, it feels like it was aiming for something akin to the tone of Steve McQueen’s Widows but severely lacks a specific style or personality in its direction and cinematography to head that way.
The Dirty Kind had a good idea of exploiting the seedier, dangerous side of politics, that we can all easily believe exists, but it loses that goal along the way. While some of its more technical issues of lighting and location can be ignored due to its minimal budget and doing what they could with the tools they had, the majority of this film’s issues come from writing and acting. There are certain unfortunate choices in writing and direction that veer the film off course and make it less enjoyable, further taking your investment away from an already unfocused story and frustratingly provides no resolution to the story.