Jon Bernthal, Rosemarie DeWitt, Imogen Poots, and a spectacular Christopher Abbott star in this gritty neo-Western with echoes of the early Coen Brothers in its intermingling of setting and criminal descent. Yet director Jamie M. Dagg showcases in his sophomore feature a unique directorial signature: a deliberate, contemplative rhythm that perfectly matches the watchful sensibilities of his characters. Adding able support from Jessica Lee Gagné’s cinematography and the Blair Brothers’ atmospheric score, Sweet Virginia becomes a haunting drama about the predator in each of us, and the prices we pay to start over.
A burglary-homicide rattles the residents of a small Alaska town, in particular two women made widows by the crime and their mutual friend, Sam, the proprietor of the local motor lodge. Sam is an outsider himself, a former rodeo champ all too happy to leave the jolt and violence of the ring behind. So when his guests prove unruly or a stranger reaches out to him, reluctance is his natural response. Secrets are revealed, violence increases, and the people in town act more unhinged. His hesitancy — and his willingness to move past it — becomes the lynchpin for his survival.
Jamie M. Dagg's first feature film River premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2015 to excellent reviews, and was awarded the Claude Jutra Award (Canadian Screen Award) which recognizes outstanding work by first-time filmmakers. River is a gritty thriller that features Rossif Sutherland as a fugitive doctor in Laos.