Arizona (2018)

In a mostly empty housing development in the mid-00’s, a realtor witnesses a murder and become entangled in a series of increasingly incredulous events.

In this film directed by Jonathan Watson and written by Luke Del Tredici, characters roam an almost deserted Arizona city with its new development and the pitfalls of the housing boom and inevitable crash. The characters are stressed on a financial level and emotional one, leading tempers to flare and grave mistakes to be made. The story is one that is based on a very odd part of the 00’s when the market still believed it was doing great and yet it was not. Similarly, the characters here are shown hitting peak or having hit it recently and currently crash. The way this is done with a dark comedy with a few twists and turns makes it something that is entertaining to watch.

The cast for this film is one of the main reasons it works. In the leads are Rosemarie DeWitt as Cassie and Danny McBride as Sonny. DeWitt does well in her part of a mother trying to survive in more ways than expected when McBride’s character crashes into her life and starts tormenting and trying to befriend her. His desperation and hers create a back and forth that brings a bit of suspense and creates an energy between them and around them. McBride is good here while still playing kind of one of his usual parts, something his fans will surely appreciate while others might take a bit longer into the film to really get into it because of that factor. Playing smaller parts but doing great nonetheless are Luke Wilson, Kaitlin Olson, Lolli Sorenson. Their parts come into play during the film for different reasons and they are given some fun and funny bits to do. Lolli Sorenson makes a mark here, giving a performance that steals a few scenes along the way.

The film’s cinematography by Drew Daniels shows the area and its deserted feel in a light that will remind anyone who’s driven through Arizona at some point about the place. Considering the film was shot in New Mexico, this is an interesting effect to realize for the film. The desert looks hot, the scenes look good while also looking like it’s a difficult climate to live in. The shots indoors show the story under another light, a light that is both complimentary and different, creating a dynamic for the scenes, going back and forth like the leads are going back and forth.

Arizona is a dark comedy thriller that works on both sides of the coin, with the dark comedy working well and the thriller part being decent. The film’s main interest lies in the performances and a careful cast selection. The film is entertaining and it makes the viewer feel the location through images, colors, and careful sound design.