Steel Country is the new feature from Simon Fellows starring Sherlock‘s Andrew Scott as a local sanitation truck driver, Donald, who plays detective, obsessing with an investigation after a young boy’s body is found in a backward town in Trump’s backwater USA. With solid performances from both Scott and Bronagh Waugh, who plays Donny’s sanitation side-kick, Donna Reutzel, there is potential with this feature, a clear depiction of the isolation and remoteness of these kind of towns in the US.
From Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Academy Award® winning producer (The King’s Speech, Kajaki) and director Simon Fellows comes a dark story of intrigue and mystery (it was originally titled A Dark Place). The somewhat formulaic tale of a small-town outsider seeking out the truth when it comes to the disappearance of a local boy, and how his obsessive behaviour challenges his sanity, and even his safety, as many are invested in suppressing the truth behind this homicide.
Donny Devlin is a garbage man and single father in Harburgh, Pennsylvania, a former steel town. Donny spends his days collecting the trash from his neighbours in this sleepy town alongside his best friend Donna Reutzel, and beyond that cares for his mother and aims to be the best father he can be to his young daughter Wendy. As a father he cannot let the death of this young boy lie especially after his mother lets it slip that he is not the type to go wandering off.
With the local sheriff warning him off, and the town reacting to the young boy’s disappearance in a variety of bizarre ways, Donny fixates on sourcing the actual truth, although it may be embedded in the structure of the town. The performances and cinematography are stunning in this feature, Scott reminding us of his award winning capability, however it is perhaps the sleepiness of the action, reflecting that of the town, which holds it back a bit. The film shows much potential but it is not long before the film starts to feel like it is dragging in places, rather than hoarding suspense, and this perhaps comes across as dreary rather simply a representation of the pace of life in these kind of places. However, that all said, there is much going for this feature and it’s worth a gander, although not necessarily on the big screen.
Steel Country is out on general release now.