Edge of Town is the kind of film that's practically made for indie cinema. Much like its spiritual predecessor Down and Yonder, writer/director Christopher Flippo's Edge of Town tells a simple story and refuses to resort to the usual heightened dramatics so often found in this type of film. The film centers around Summer Roome (Audrey Deitz), a likable young woman when we meet her who's seemingly happy living life in the home and small town where she grew up. However, her peaceful existence is disrupted when her elder brother Holt (Geoff James) shows up at her doorstep soon to be followed by her wayward father, Dodge (Duane Whitaker).
It's clear fairly quickly that while these folks are kin you might be hard-pressed to actually call them family. They're alike in some ways. They're incredibly different in others. There's not necessarily a lot that unfolds in Edge of Town. This is no Junebug, Winter's Bone, or other smalltown themed flick. This is a low-budget indie flick telling the kind of story that Hollywood seldom touches without ruining it with unnecessary histrionics.
The characters here are equally simple. They aren't one-note by any means, however, Flippo avoids excessive exposition in favor of letting the actors draw us in. For the most part, that works quite nicely.
Audrey Deitz feels down home, and I swear that's a compliment since most of my own family is from the hills of Kentucky, and she feels like the kind of woman who has quietly built her own life to be a little different than what she grew up with. She's the kind of woman who's instantly likable but you can't help but sense there's a wall up.
It's a joy seeing Duane Whitaker tackle a different kind of role, though it certainly has some similar rhythms to what we're used to the actor known for Pulp Fiction, Tales From the Hood, Trailer Park of Terror, and a host of others. There's an edge to Whitaker's Dodge, however, it's a more refined edge with a deep emotional resonance. Whitaker has always been a solid actor and it's nice seeing him get to show those acting chops a bit here.
The sibling chemistry is believable between Dietz and Geoff James, her elder brother here who's clearly lost his sense of direction. There's never really a moment you don't like the guy and James does a wonderful job drawing us into his strengths and weaknesses.
Edge of Town is ultimately about the journey we undergo with family. I sit here writing this on the first anniversary of my own mother's death and as I've spent much of my life reflecting on the weirdness of my own family journey and even how my own recently passed away sibling and I were both incredibly similar and mind-bogglingly different. In some ways, Edge of Town reminded me of my own thoughts and emotions.
Jonathan Hunt's lensing for the film is warm and casual. It immerses us in these lives and in this world they live. Hunt avoids anything showy in favor of Flippo's simplicity and naturalism. The same is true for Richard Malstrom's original music.
Edge of Town isn't so much a mind-blowing film as it is simply a small indie motion picture that tells a story perfectly suited for the indie world. While the film feels just a tad bloated narratively, these characters are easy to enjoy and played by actors who obviously understand them. With warmth and understanding, Edge of Town shows once again that Christopher Flippo understands smalltown life and the myriad of ways it can impact who we are and how we grow up.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic