Iowa

If it were possible for an entire state to sue for defamation of character, Iowa might have a strong case against writer, director and star Matt Farnsworth. According to this first-time feature filmmaker, the entire Hawkeye State is a hotbed of crime, corruption and clandestine chemistry, with home-cooked crystal methamphetamine replacing pot roast and Mom's...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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If it were possible for an entire state to sue for defamation of character, Iowa might have a strong case against writer, director and star Matt Farnsworth. According to this first-time feature filmmaker, the entire Hawkeye State is a hotbed of crime, corruption and clandestine chemistry, with home-cooked crystal methamphetamine replacing pot roast and Mom's apple pie. With the sudden and grisly death of Leo Harte — he stepped in front of a truck — in a small, homey Iowa town, 20-year-old Esper (Farnsworth), Leo's son and the sole beneficiary of his life-insurance policy, stands to collect a cool $200,000. But, warns insurance adjuster Irv Huffman (John Savage), who also happens to be the father of Esper's fiancee, Donna (Diane Foster), if Leo's death turns out to have been the consequence of illegal drug use, nobody gets a dime. The drug accusation comes as a surprise: Esper had no idea his retired father was quietly manufacturing meth in a secret lab, but no sooner do he and Donna discover his stash than they're both snorting Tony Montana-size mounds of crank, hallucinating and talking about maybe driving to Egypt. Esper also didn't seem to know his father was seeing a probation officer named Larry (Michael T. Weiss), a mean son of a gun who was sneaking around with Leo's wife, Effie (Rosanna Arquette). In fact, Effie and Larry have concocted a crazy plan to kill Esper for Leo's insurance money by first arresting Esper for drug possession, then murdering him in his cell. Once he's got Esper in the pokey, Larry gets his sick kicks by luring Donna down to the station and brutally raping her at gunpoint. Donna runs to creepy Pastor Krause (John Bliss), who pays Esper's bail, but the ever-resourceful Larry has a backup plan. Esper and Donna also have a plan: They swipe a copy of Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture (an actual publication) and figure they'll "batch" for themselves until they make enough money to escape Iowa for good. Unfortunately, they quickly become their own best customers and their lives begin to resemble one of those classroom drug-scare films from the '60s. Embedded deep within this lurid mess are some interesting details about the crank crisis in working-class America, a place where a porch light on before dusk indicates a crank house open for business, and an order of cherry pie and orange soda at the local diner will get you a whole lot more. But Farnsworth draws too many times from the spiked wells of SPUN, SID AND NANCY and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (not to mention JACKSON COUNTY LINE and TRAINSPOTTING) for any of his lurid revelations to seem coherent or even remotely original.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: If it were possible for an entire state to sue for defamation of character, Iowa might have a strong case against writer, director and star Matt Farnsworth. According to this first-time feature filmmaker, the entire Hawkeye State is a hotbed of crime, corr… (more)

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