Thomas Haden Church is such an underrated actor. From Sideways to Spider-Man 3, Easy A to We Bought a Zoo, and of course, the dark comedy Killer Joe, he’s proven himself to be one of the best character actors working today. But whilst characters actor usually stick to the sides, Church takes the lead role in this brooding drama, Whitewash.
After accidentally killing a man whilst drunkenly joyriding his snow plough, Bruce hides the body and crashes in a nearby wood. From there, he practically lives inside the plough, as both the authorities and his own conscious closes in on him as we see flashbacks as to how he met the man he killed and who Bruce was before the accident.
Thomas Haden Church is phenomenal, and it’s his performance that really holds this uneven film together. The way he talks to himself, pretending to talk to cops, explaining himself, and when his familiar voice narrates, it’s hard not to be mesmerised. Psychologically impaired performances are some of the most complex to perform and enticing to watch; think Jack Nicholson in The Shining, for example, one of the best performances of his career, and likewise with Church. But whilst Nicholson was loud and vibrant and over the top, Church is isolated, lonely, quiet and concealed. In only an hour and a half, we watch him slowly deteriorate.
The cinematography and direction is great, with the film being a treat visually. Despite being slow and uneven, Whitewash is saved by its direction, through provoking scenes and fantastic central performance.
Whitewash is playing this weekend as part of the East End Film Festival. Catch it at Genesis Cinema, buy tickets here!