Firecracker

Independent filmmaker Steve Balderson based this 2004 feature on actual events in his hometown of Wamego, Kansas, though one of them must have been a David Lynch retrospective. A patina of 50s innocence conceals a world of dark desire and murderous rage as a wimpy teen strays from his Catholic family into the seedy world of a traveling carnival. Karen Black has a field day in her dual role as the boy's devout mother and a sideshow performer whose creepy torch songs recall Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive. This is marvelous to look at, with highly expressive use of black and white and filtered color; the sublime visual style seems much more personal than the story, with its ho-hum mystery and tired Catholic iconography. 107 min.

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