Updated: Feb 9, 2020
I flipping love these types of movies. A non-tentpole release with an ensemble cast that takes place with explosive bits of action in an otherwise quiet singular setting and slowly revealed backstory? Sign me up, The Hateful Eight, Reservoir Dogs, Ex Machina, Murder On The Orient Express. And this is worthy addition to that list. These movies are not easy to do because you have to have a magnetic cast and can't rely on shooty-boom-boom. It's not going to make a ton of money and people don't want to see it without a massive name (Quentin Tarantino and Agatha Christie) attached to it.
But commercial and even critical success aren't that important with movies like this. These are pretty much plays that let the actor, you know, act. And this movie has ACTORS: Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, the incredible newcomer Cynthia Erivo (more on her later). Chris Hemsworth also plays his role to absolute perfection as a hippie cult leader, a welcome departure from his big-budget Marvel series.
Cynthia Erivo is the star of this movie, despite Don Draper, The Dude and Thor being in this movie. Her portrayal of a struggling soul singer that won't let anyone take advantage of her is powerful and full, her beautiful voice acting as a de facto soundtrack in the movie's quieter moments. I actually had no idea who she was until I looked her up and she's a relative newcomer to acting, only beginning her stage career in 2011. Her pedigree is strong, with a three-year run on Broadway in The Color Purple. In 2018 alone, she's acted with Viola Davis, sung with John Legend, she's well on her way to becoming a superstar and she deserves it.
This is another in the long line of things I really like by someone I didn't know I liked, Drew Goddard. Buffy, Lost, Alias, Daredevil, Cloverfield, World War Z, The Martian, Cabin In The Woods, this guy wrote or directed all of it. This is only his second time directing a movie and I'm very excited to see how he keeps moving forward in his career.