‘The Death of Dick Long’ Review: A Surreal Tragic Farce

Zeke Olsen (Michael Abbott Jr.) and his two friends/bandmates go out for a night of drinking, getting high, shooting guns and other debauchery. Come the morning, one of them is dead and the other two are desperately trying to cover up their involvement. What happened to Dick Long? And just how guilty are Zeke Olsen and his remaining friend.

Daniel Scheinert’s latest film is another transgressive and darkly funny experience. Like Swiss Army Man, this film is determined to find the human heart and genuine humour in a strange. He succeeds admirably. This is quite handily one of the most affecting dramas of the year, whilst also being about…what this film is actually about.

The whole thing is like a perverse shaggy dog story, that includes so many humanising elements that it’s impossible not to find the central premise as tragic as it is humorous. The handling of tone is masterful here. At no point is the real drama undermined and the comedic moments are never unintentional. This is an assured exercise in tension, both dramatic and comedic.

The excellent performances throughout the cast assist greatly in making this tragic and funny. Michael Abbot Jr is a nervous wreck. He forces you to emphasise with him before you can even find out the severity of his crime. Virginia Newcomb is at first brilliantly charming and then heartbreakingly sorrowful as Zeke’s wife. She gives a very nuanced performance. Andre Hyland is likable as Zeke’s hapless friend/accomplice. Sarah Baker has major Fargo vibes as Officer Dudley. It’s a very accomplished cast.

The Death of Dick Long might be the strangest film you’ll have seen since Swiss Army Man, but it’s also the most surprisingly affecting film you’ll have seen since Swiss Army Man. Sheinert’s is definitely a talent to watch, as he has a feel for humanity and it’s peculiarities.

Four Stars

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