Feature

Putty Hill

Putty Hill quietly observes a circle of family and friends as they mourn a young man’s death by overdose.

Directed by Matt Porterfield
(Not Rated)

***

This small-budget movie from a Baltimore-area filmmaker offers “a stark blast of realism,” said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. Set in a working-class neighborhood just outside that city, the film quietly observes a circle of friends and family as they deal with the glum aftermath of a young man’s untimely death by overdose. The deceased is fictional, but the cast in this “largely improvised” movie are mostly just real-life locals playing themselves. Director Matt Porterfield’s “moody, elliptical” blend of fiction and documentary creates an “impressionistic portrait of a place and its residents,” said Stephen Holden in The New York Times. He’s less interested in telling a story than in plunking us down in an exurban fringe community characterized by “stasis, downward mobility, and lowered expectations.” Putty Hill’s roundabout structure may be “an homage to the dead-end lives of Baltimore’s beleaguered,” said Ella Taylor in NPR.org. It also, however, highlights Porterfield’s “stubborn unwillingness”—and perhaps his inability—to weave his powerful raw materials into a story.

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