One Mistake. One Secret. One Chance

“A Single Shot” is a 2013 American crime thriller film, directed by David M. Rosenthal (“Janie Jones”). The film’s screenplay was written by Matthew F. Jones and is based upon his own 1996 novel, also titled “A Single Shot”.


Matthew F. Jones
Matthew F. Jones “A Single Shot”

The film starts quietly, with no dialogue for several minutes, and lots of beautifully captured shots of a grey and damp early morning in the backwoods of West Virginia. A man, John Moon (Sam Rockwell – “Coke”, “Moon”), rises early and makes his way into the woods near his trailer home intending to illegally hunt deer. Tracking one through the trees he takes a shot only to discover that he has accidentally shot and killed a young woman.

Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell

Panicking, he decides to hide the body in a nearby disused quarry site, where he stumbles across a makeshift campsite and uncovers a hidden box with US$100,000.00 inside.

Sam Rockwell & Kelly Reilly
Sam Rockwell & Kelly Reilly

John is a man in a bad way. The family dairy farm was foreclosed and sold off, he is unable to hold down a job for very long, and his diner waitress wife Jess (Kelly Reilly – “Innocence”, “Set Fire To The Stars”), having had enough, has left him and taken their young son with her. So, he takes the cash, seeing the money as a chance to hire a lawyer to help him get his family back, and to make a better life for them.

Jason Isaacs
Jason Isaacs

In a small town, however, it’s hard to keep secrets and John very quickly finds he is being tracked by a shady drug dealer, Waylon (Jason Isaacs – “Harry Potter”, “Abduction”) determined to get his money back and exact his revenge.

William H. Macy
William H. Macy

Also involved in this convoluted tale are John’s best friend Simon (Jeffrey Wright – “Casino Royale”, “The Ides Of March”) who is usually drunk, the creepy Obadiah (Joe Anderson – “Across The Universe”), Jess’s waitress friend Carla (Amy Sloan – “Mulligan”), horse-riding Abbie (Ophelia Lovibond – “Guardians Of The Galaxy”), and John’s lawyer Daggard Pitt (William H. Macy – “Fargo”) who seems to be involved in more than advising John over Jess’s request for a divorce.

This is a bleak tale of a seemingly good man making mistakes and wrong choices and suffering the consequences. Whilst there are a couple of plot lines that don’t entirely add up or develop, and the dialogue delivered by Simon is rather hard to understand given that the character is always drunk, the look of the film is fantastic and the acting performances (Rockwell is particularly excellent) make this nonetheless a very good film, and the conclusion was superb…


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