wed 24/07/2024

We Gotta Get Out of This Place | reviews, news & interviews

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Striking debut from the Hawkins brothers finds a trio of teens in way over their heads

The misfortune just keeps on coming for Jeremy Allen White in 'We Gotta Get Out of This Place'

"There are 32 ways to write a story...but there is only one plot - things are not as they seem" - wisdom, courtesy of author Jim Thompson and ominously quoted in We Gotta Get Out of This Place by Sue (Mackenzie Davis) before she's swept into a nightmarish story of her own, one that takes the shape of a Thompson-esque crime thriller where things, and more specifically people, are most certainly contrary to how they appear.

The film is the confident directorial debut of brothers Simon and Zeke Hawkins, working from a knowing, double-cross-laden script by first-time screenwriter Dutch Southern.

Optimistic bookworm Sue (pictured below right) and her lapdog-like pal Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) are preparing to go to college, looking forward to getting out of their "shithole" Texan town. Sue's blue-collar boyfriend is the cocksure and chaotic BJ (Logan Huffman) - that wicked glint in his eye is given some context by the film's opener where we see him emptying a safe of $20,000 in cash. It's an act of theft made to seem mischievous and almost too easy but which, as we'll see, will trigger terrible consequences.

Lifelong friends Bobby and BJ work for the menacing Giff (Mark Pellegrino), the man BJ has decided it's a good idea to steal from. To save his friend's bacon and to clear the name of the man whom Giff has initially assumed to be the culprit, the noble Bobby confesses to the crime. As penance he's blackmailed into stealing from an even bigger, out-of-town bad guy - William Devane's Big Red - with BJ and Sue forced into becoming his accomplices. Meanwhile Bobby's feelings for Sue, which are obvious from the outset, make matters even murkier.

The scenario doesn't wholly convince, and there's a casualness to some of the interactions (the boys' burial of a body for example) which doesn't ring true, given the escalating and very real danger. However, it's well cast, with Davis a likeable and sympathetic heroine, White giving good hangdog and Pellegrino making playing the bad guy look like a hoot as he delivers a few choice, very bad taste quips. As BJ, Huffman has the most challenging role, one where he goes from smiling to snarling, and while he doesn't totally nail every shade of what turns out to be quite a complex character arc, the young actor certainly shows promise.

With We Gotta Get Out of This Place the Hawkins brothers leave us in no doubt regarding their filmmaking chops; it's hardly the most memorable or original example of neo-noir (although as it acknowledges, there are only so many stories you can tell), but it is an extremely striking debut. There's a sense that the brothers are having fun and experimenting and it mostly works. They're well aided by Jonathan Keevil's unsettling score and Jeff Bierman's moody cinematography. Together they invoke an atmosphere of menace which weighs heavily on the characters, suggesting - perhaps even promising - that this will not end well.

Follow @EmmaSimmonds on Twitter

Overleaf: watch the trailer for We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Huffman has the most challenging role, one where he goes from smiling to snarling


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters