An enjoyable, 90s inflected crime drama that travels at it’s own pace.
Arkansas feels very familiar, in a comforting way. Best described as a relaxed southern crime yarn, it tells the story of a pair of low level employees, Karl and Swin, in a drug supply chain inter-cut with flashbacks that chronicle their employer’s rise. Played by Liam Hemsworth and Clark Duke (who also directs), Karl and Swin could be working anywhere until a deal goes wrong and bad decisions start to add up.
This is pure 90s. From it’s Tarantino influences and hangout vibes, to a cast including John Malkovich and Vince Vaughn, this feels like a film from 1998. And that’s not a bad thing. The film has a rhythm and, despite it’s almost 2hr runtime and episodic structure, doesn’t drag. It also has surprises and smart character beats that work due to a solid cast. The central characters work well off each other without feeling too ‘odd couple’, meanwhile Malkovich is in laid-back and louche mode whilst Vaughan carries on with the type of character he’s been essaying since Season 2 of True Detective.
Overall this is a strong and steady and entertaining directorial debut that you’ll enjoy as long as you don’t mind a certain amount of meandering.
Arkansas is available now Digital Download and on DVD from 20 July from Lionsgate UK.