...Or Not to Be

Wisconsin Death Trip channels the pathologies of small-town America into a haunting picture show

In perhaps the most indelible sequence of the film, two boys, runaways, shoot and kill a farmer, then don masks and caper on his lawn, reenacting the gunplay. Later we watch from the boys' perspective as the sharp hooves of the posse's horses bear down upon us. Marsh denies us the safety of critical distance and forces our identification with the murderer. And with this subtle framing, the director uses his camera to connect us to our own dark instincts.

Lesy insists that the cause of the insanity in Black River Falls was disease and depression. Marsh, with his interplay between present and past, implies deeper roots. The fact is that here in America, we go crazy often and publicly. The reverberation of our own ordinary acts of brutality, and those of our forefathers, is something outside of time and history. CP


Wisconsin Death Trip airs on Cinemax (cable channel 52 in Minneapolis, 51 in St. Paul) on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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