There haven’t been sweet-natured US indies like this for a while. I was thinking back to The Station Agent, and Mud for comparisons, you know, the stuff we used to love back in the days before superheroes ruled the earth.
I must admit I immediately hated the title of this one, and for a few months I avoided screening invitations, thinking it was some noir-ish Sundance-smug spoof on The Maltese Falcon or something, by directors I’d never heard of.
But in fact it’s a heart-warming odd couple swamp adventure in the Huck Finn/Of Mice and Men mode, featuring Shia LeBeouf on likeable, jumpy form befriending a runaway Down syndrome man – Zak – with dreams of being a wrestler, one who will go by the name of… The Peanut Butter Falcon.
Dakota Johnson plays the impossibly pretty care home nurse who is sent after the escapee and she tracks the pair down to a redneck wrestling camp in the North Carolina Outer Banks.
The setting, the casting, the bluegrass soundtrack and the gentle, respectfully humorous tone from writer/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz lift this one to a place where it finds real heart amid themes of friendship and tenderness. A lovely, practically old-fashioned gem.