john dahl (joy ride, rounders) directs this modern noir sleeper set in wyoming. nick cage plays the hard-on-his-luck everyman from texas looking for work. he wanders into a bar completely broke where the bartender (j.t. walsh) mistakes him for another man from texas who he had been expecting. it turns out that the man from texas for whom the bartender has been waiting was supposed to do some work for the bartender. thinking things have finally turned his way, cage snatches the opportunity for work and assumes the identity of the man from texas, but it turns out that the job was a lot more than he had bargained for.
this is probably the best film of dahl’s that i’ve seen so far. it’s smartly written and well directed. the soundtrack was less than great, but it was all country (because of the setting) so that’s understandable; it functioned well within the film so that’s really what matters. i’ve sort of come to the conclusion that noir has to be filmed in black and white to be a true noir. there are some films that do a good job of replicating the noir feel, or aesthetic without being filmed in black and white, but i’m going to be old-fashioned and say it’s gotta be in black and white to be a real noir. that said, this film, outside of the cinematography, does a good job of staying noir. it has the femme fatale, the twists and turns, and the everyman caught in a downward spiral of bad luck. the main thing is that it’s just a good yarn and nicholas cage is good enough to carry the weight in any place that the film sags.